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First for Bahrain: International Airshow

Between 21 and 23 January 2016, Bahrain is hosting its fourth International Airshow. These have been held every two years with the first such event taking place in 2010. Since this date, the airshows have only got bigger and more ambitious, with tens of thousands of attendees and hundreds of participating companies.

Participation has recently expanded from regional and GCC airline companies, including the major international players, like BAE, Boeing and Airbus.

Bahrain has a distinguished history in the airline industry. The first recorded flight arriving in Bahrain was in 1918; a Vickers Vimy bomber from the Royal Air Force on a survey flight from London to Calcutta, a journey which took 27 days to accomplish.

This was the beginning of a regular RAF air mail service along this route. Imperial Airways, the forerunner of BOAC and British Airways, proved flights through the Gulf region during the 1920s. The first Imperial Airways flight to Bahrain was in 1927. Imperial’s De Haviland bi-plane ran scheduled flights between the UK and India, via Basra, Bahrain, Sharjah and sometimes Kuwait.

Over this period, Bahrain’s aviation facilities became firmly established at the current site of Bahrain Airport in Muharraq, making it the international airport with the longest history in the region. By 1936 these flights were running two times each week.

During the Second World War, Bahrain’s aviation facilities expanded and demand increased for regional air travel for military purposes. For example, the US Air Force and the British Royal Air Force established a major presence at this time.

Many of these facilities were acquired by Gulf Air at the time of Bahrain’s formal independence in 1971. However, the history of Bahraini airline companies goes back to 1950 when the local enterprise, the Gulf Aviation Company, was established. The GAC was effectively the forerunner of Gulf Air.

As the Gulf Aviation Company expanded, this consolidated Muharraq Airport as by far the most modern and advanced airport in the Gulf, used by numerous regional and international aviation companies.

In 1961 a new passenger terminal was opened, followed by a number of upgrades of the facilities over the coming decades. Yet another major 30-year expansion and refurbishment programme began in 2010.

First for Bahrain

1.     Bahrain’s first mosque

2.     First artificial islands

3.     Female president of UN General Assembly

4.     First nation to host Gulf Cup

5.     First mention in historical record

6.     First modern schools

7.     First causeway

8.     First oil well in the region

9.     First media outlets

10.   Bahrain’s first lady

11.   Women in medicine

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