THE number of visitors to a nationwide shopping festival is expected to surge by 10 per cent to 15pc, according to a top official.
The month-long Shop Bahrain was opened to a tumultuous welcome as visitors flocked to Bahrain Bay where the much-awaited shopping extravaganza started last night.
Present at the launch were Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) chief executive Shaikh Khalid bin Humood Al Khalifa and Industry, Commerce and Tourism Minister Zayed Al Zayani.
“We expect a 10-15pc rise in public attendance,” said Mr Zayani.
“The timings are better, the weather and organisation are excellent while the stakeholders and supporters are more (than last year) and so are the number of participants.
“Timings have been changed to suit school holidays in Bahrain and the neighbouring Gulf countries which will have a beneficial contribution to the number of visitors.”
Meanwhile, Shaikh Khalid pointed to the added attractions this year.
“Each year, there are more events, more participants and more malls and hotels taking part,” he told the GDN.
“Last year, we had 13 cars, this year we’re having 20 cars to give away which are much more valuable.
“Last year, we had around 19 hotels, this year we have around 30 taking part.
“What makes this year’s festival unique is that the holidays in Saudi Arabia, Kuwaiti and Bahrain are all at the same time, so we’re hoping to give an offering to everyone including Bahrainis, Gulf nationals and expats in the region.”
As part of the event, a Festival City was opened yesterday.
The streets in the area were crowded with people waiting to enter the outdoor area.
The city featured local businesses as the outdoor market boasted a number of home-grown businesses showcasing Bahraini creativity in an urban setting, a shift in theme from last year’s carnival-esque mood.
“This is my second year at the festival and it has received a great reception,” said participating vendor Chocolaty and Discovery manager Mohammed Janahi.
“As a Bahraini, it’s a fantastic event and I’m very satisfied with it.”
Meanwhile, a visitor said the festival was “absolutely great”.
“They’ve stepped it up since last year and I encourage everyone to come, it’s well worth the BD2 entry price,” said blogger Syed Mamoon.
Included at the event were an outdoor children’s cinema, photo booth, football area, bouncy castle, bumper cars, roller-coaster and a number of other fun-filled family games.
A relaxation area provided hammocks for visitors, while living statues stood motionless throughout the festival.
Performers also paraded on stilts captivating audiences with unique dances and imposing costumes.
However, the highlight of the event were fire dancers who illuminated the skies in a spectacular juggling performance.
Celebrations continued as the Melody Band took centre stage at a designated music area, while acts by local artist Mo Zowayad and fellow musicians dazzled audiences in a song tribute to Bahrain.
Visitors to Festival City today can expect performances by local artists such as Zaman at 5pm and 6.45pm, and the Bahrain Talking Drums at 8.30pm.
Moreover, various artists will provide workshops for children aged above 12 on a weekly basis with artwork of the participants exhibiting throughout the week.
The Festival City will be open daily from 4pm to 10pm on weekdays and 4pm-11pm on weekends.
Entrance fee is BD2 for adults while children aged under four enter free.
Shop Bahrain runs until February 10 with in-mall activities, an Auto Fair and Taste Tour besides the Festival City.
More than 80,000 prizes are up for grabs, including 20 cars and air tickets for shoppers using Shop Bahrain’s loyalty system.
The shopping extravaganza is being organised by the BTEA in co-operation with Tamkeen, Y K Almoayyed, VIVA Bahrain and Gulf Air.
For further information, visit www.shopbahrain.com or @shopbahrain on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.