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In an effort to make Bahrain stand out as a destination that meets the needs of both business and leisure travellers, BTEA evaluated that approximately USD10 billion has been invested in development projects in 2017, while it has infrastructure projects worth over USD32 billion in the pipeline either under construction or scheduled for the near future.

During 2017, the Kingdom saw important openings, including the opening of Wyndham Garden Manama, said to be the largest Wyndham Hotel in the world, on November 15, which is expected to attract guests from all over the world which seek a stress-free experience. Conveniently located in Juffair and just a 10-minute drive from Bahrain International Airport, guests have easy access to the upcoming Oasis Mall and many other leisure activities.

Mukul Mehta, cluster general manager, Wyndham Garden Manama, said, "Wyndham Garden Manama provides flexible accommodation to suit any traveller's needs. [...]

The hotel brings a carefree convenience and peace of mind to both business and leisure travellers visiting Bahrain."

Meanwhile, the latest reports put shopping in the spotlight as the main attraction of Bahrain which results from the diversity of shopping experiences visitors and locals can enjoy.

For those who seek to experience tradition and meet the authenticity of Bahrain, Manama souq has been long-established in-between the old parts of the city and the central business district. Visitors can go on a journey of the rich culture of Bahrain through the smells, sounds and textures that can be found in the open air souq, while shopping.

"It is true that shopping is becoming a main attraction. Many events are organised by the Bahrain International Exhibition and Convention Centre [...] The main reason is the access, a free country, less crowded compared to other destinations," enthused Krishnan.

Bahrain also offers modern options for its visitors with over 20 malls, including Moda Mall, Seef Mall and the newly launched The Avenues Bahrain, where the needs of even the most demanding shoppers can be fulfilled. City Centre Bahrain is hailed as the largest shopping, leisure and entertainment destination in Bahrain, attracting more than 13.5 million visitors annually.

Including more than 340 exclusive brands, 60 dining outlets and the largest indoor-outdoor water park, the mall allows guests to combine shopping with family activities.

In order to make the shopping experience even more special, City Centre Bahrain, as well as Seef Mall will participate in the fourth edition of Bahrain Shopping Festival, Shop Bahrain, which will kick off on January 11, until February 10, offering shoppers a one of a kind shopping experience.

During the third edition of the event in 2017, 45,000 visitors had visited the Festival City, enjoying the different activities, offers and competitions taking place.

"Their main attraction is shopping and having fun. The few heritage attractions like the Al Jasra house, Bahrain fort and Al Fateh Grand Mosque are visited by our guests.

The Bahrain National Museum and various sports activities like Gravity indoor sky diving, swimming with the dolphins and also various adventure water sports activities are some other factors certainly contributing to attracting families from Saudi Arabia," added Krishnan.

As for a more authentic while also fun experience, the Bahrain National Museum offers a 4,000 years journey through the nation's longstanding culture. In an effort to preserve the Bahraini heritage and history, the museum offers nine main halls and classifies the accumulated heritage of the country into six different sections.

Numerous international culture and art exhibitions have been hosted by the museum over the years as a way of promoting global culture within the community.

FOOD AND SHOPPING UNITE

In order to get a better understanding of a country's culture, travellers need to explore all of its aspects, whether these are museum visits, studying history, experiencing the destination's hospitality or traditional shops, there is one aspect that always strikes attention for all cultures and especially Bahrain, and that is its cuisine.

Influenced by the various communities around the Kingdom, Bahraini cuisine is a mixture of Arabic, Persian, Indian and European food, and it can be combined with business trips, leisure activities and shopping, completing the experience of visiting Bahrain. "Dining out is also part of the shopping experience as hardly anyone goes shopping without having a bite to eat," emphasised Maskati.

The addition of Dinner in the Sky has advanced the food experience as visitors could take a short break from shopping in exchange for an adrenaline rush which involves eating. As Maskati explained, the restaurant that occupies Bahrain's skies will be located in the grounds of the Art Rotana Hotel, offering guests views of the Kingdom's skyline.

"We try to use as much local produce in our food as possible and incorporate local dishes on our menus.

This guarantees not only the freshest products for our guests but also supports the local agricultural industry, reduces our carbon footprint and promotes the local culinary heritage.

[...] This year, we are participating in numerous fairs and tourism promotion events in Europe to promote Dinner in the Sky Bahrain, and everything else that the country has to offer," concluded Maskati. The most popular Bahraini dishes are machboos, which consist of fish or meat and is served with rice mixed with curry and Qoozi, which is a mixture of grilled lamp served with rice, boiled eggs, cooked onions and mixed nuts. Summarising, visitors can enjoy these dishes and many more at the Bahrain Food Festival launched by the BTEA.