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26 February 2014 Press Conference to Launch Manama as Asian Tourism City 2014
Press Conference to Launch Manama as Asian Tourism City 2014

Manama has been officially declared as the Asian Capital of Tourism 2014 at a press conference held at the Bahrain Fort. The proposal was submitted by Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammad Al-Khalifa at the inaugural session of the 12th the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) ministerial meeting on 26 February 2014 and was endorsed unanimously by 33 delegations. The Asian honour acknowledges the centuries-old historical heritage of Manama, already consecrated as Capital of Arab Culture (2012) and Capital of Arab Tourism (2013. The event, organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was held in the presence of the Minister of Culture, H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, the Foreign Minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammad Al Khalifa, the Secretary-General of the Asian Cooperation Forum (ACF), Bundit Limschoon, diplomats, ambassadors, representatives of Asian countries, intellectuals and the media. Strategies of cultural exchange and consolidation of relations between the Asian countries were announced to enhance tourism at the Asian and global levels.

The Culture Minister highlighted the diversity of tourist locations in the Arabian Gulf and pointed out to the history and civilization of Bahrain that stretches back 5000 years and its relations with the Arabian Peninsula and world countries. H.E commended the cooperation between the Culture Ministry and Foreign Ministry, appreciating the Foreign Minister's long support for culture and tourism.
Foreign Minister, H.E Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa and Culture Minister Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa were joined by Asian Co-operation Dialogue (ACD) secretary general Bundit Limschoon at the event, where they outlined the programme of cultural events that lay ahead over the next 12 months. Chief among these is the Spring of Culture Festival that gets underway this weekend, as well as a variety of exhibitions, fairs and festivals to be held throughout the year - including the launch of an all-new annual film festival to be held at the Cultural Hall. Bahrain’s embassies abroad will also host events, it was announced, to promote Bahrain in Asia and around the world.
"We have a very full schedule of differing and varied events planned here in Bahrain and elsewhere," H.E Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said. “This is an honour for us to have Manama become the first Capital of Asian Tourism and I feel positive and confident that it will follow on from the success of the Arab Capital of Culture events held in 2012."
H.E Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa dismissed claims that the year of planned events, focusing on Bahrain's relationship with Asia, marked a move away from the country's longstanding alliances in the West. “Bahrain is not only a member of the ACD, it is an establishing member since 2001," Shaikh Khalid said. “Nothing is done at the expense of anything else. "We maintain an excellent relationship with our allies around the world and that relationship is growing. “You have seen His Majesty's visits abroad (most recently to India) and these visits culminated in a long-standing relationship that's been building over decades and we are celebrating this relationship."
The Foreign Minister underscored Bahrain's historical tourist relations with other Asian countries that have been further developed in line with HM the King's vision, hailing the Culture Ministry's accomplishments at the local and Asian levels.
ACF Sec-Gen lauded Culture and Foreign Ministers' tourist efforts at local and continental levels, stressing Bahrain represents a tourist destination that combines history, civilisation, culture and warm hospitality. Mr. Bundit Limschoon was honored by H.E Shaikh Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Foreign Minister and H.E Shaikha Mai bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture, who presented him an art masterpiece by famous painter, Kahlid Al-Farhan. Mr. Bundit Limschoon, for his part, awarded both ministers with two honorary ACD shields.

Celebrating Manama as the Asian Tourism City 2014 includes the strategies envisaged to promote Bahrain in Asian countries and markets, which would in turn, benefit the national economy and sustainable investments opportunities. Showing the various events and activities planned by the Ministry of Culture, tourism tours, Asian handicrafts exhibitions and publicity would contribute to the development of a brighter image of Manama as a friendly, culture-oriented and magic city to be visited and discovered. All parties agreed on the importance of this major event, noting that fostering tourism and revamping the cultural infrastructure is a common task to be fulfilled by the government and private sectors . The Minister of Culture also praised written proposals presented by the Kingdom of Bahrain for promoting tourism in Asian cities, particularly the call that this approach be coupled with upgrading Asian countries’ infrastructures. Developing tourism in Asia also warrants securing necessary services, entertainment programs, shopping malls and other facilities, H.E said, noting that developing the sector would help in cementing pan-Asian ties and “cultural approchement”at the continental level.

Indeed, given its long-standing history and civilization, Bahrain has been selected many times to be an exceptional Arab model, a cultural and intellectual hub by a number of international entities. With its growing economy, it's advanced infrastructure, abundance of leisure facilities, easy connectivity to countries around the world and a cosmopolitan work-force, Bahrain continues to attract the attention of events organisers around the world. Numerous international European and Arab World ( press conferences) were held to present or honor the outstanding cultural achievements of Bahrain.

The Minister of Culture stressed the importance of coordination efforts to promote Manama's tourism identity during this year 2014 and ensure a place on the world map of the tourism industry. Strategies and plans to celebrate Asian Tourism City include art exhibitions and heritage shows by many Asian countries, which have, in deed, started with 500 Years of Islamic Calligraphy- Masterpieces from Sakıp Sabancı Museum” Exhibition by Turkish Shakib Sabanji Museum in January 2014. The collection of the Selected examples of illuminated Korans and prayer books dating from the 16th to early 20th centuries, with calligraphy by Istanbul artists, some of whom served as calligraphy teacher to the sultans, large calligraphic panels, again by Istanbul artists, that were hung on walls like paintings, and albums of calligraphic compositions were included in the planned exhibition in Bahrain. From India, many photographers will be showing the major aspects of their country’s civilization Inside India – A photographic exhibition of dramatic imagery and intimate moments. Contemporary Art Exhibition from Saudi Arabia, by Al Mansouria Foundation in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture will also be present during this year.
Bollywood Masala Orchestra invites you on a musical journey from Rajasthan to Mumbai. With 19 professional artists on stage this colourful spectacle will captivate you and sounds. Bollywood Masala Orchesra is a unique show, combining for the first time a frenzied brass band and acoustic musicians, singers, female dancers, a fakir and acrobats from Jaipur, Jodhpur, Sikar and Khandela. The Bollywood Masala Orchestra and Dancers is the culmination of the vision of Rahis Bharti, who invites you into this wonderfully exotic world of music, dance, dynamic rhythm, and spirituality.

Worth to mention that the official launch of Manama as Asian Tourism City was chosen to coincide with Arab traveler anniversary, Ibn Battuta, who was honored by Manama by organizing Ibn Battouta Awards for Travel Literature" was held on 26th Feb 2013 at Bahrain National Museum. This coincides also with the festivities celebrating “ Our Year of Art” 2014. The Ministry of Culture will use this year's Asian Tourism City and Year of Art festivals to unite Bahrainis and others in a celebration of hope, love, optimism and beauty.

Manama Capital of Asian Tourism 2014 Bahrain Map