Australia is planning to increase its footprint in Bahrain in the hope of attracting more visitors.

Negotiations are underway about setting up an embassy in Manama to help make it easier to apply for a visa.

At present applicants have to go through the Australian Embassy in Riyadh.

Australia’s Gold Coast global connection co-ordinator of economic development and major projects Jason Thomas said an embassy would also help increase trade between both countries.

“Because of the Qatar 2022 Fifa World Cup the region as a whole is being seen in a different light with much greater potential,” he told the GDN.

“The plan is to not only bolster tourism coming from that region but also export Australian education from the Gold Coast to Bahrain.

“We realise that there is major development potential but the first thing we will have to do is set up some governmental presence in Bahrain as there is currently no embassy in the kingdom.


“The V8 supercar races which came to Bahrain’s Formula One track have put the country on the map for us and we want our presence to be felt more.

“The Australian authorities have already signed deals with Qatar Airways for the World Cup traffic, but since Bahrain will also be hosting several tourists our connections there still need to be worked on.”

The GDN earlier reported that Bahrain could be set for a $60 billion (BD22.6bn) windfall thanks to Qatar winning the bid to host the 2022 Fifa World Cup.

Construction companies are already eyeing lucrative building contracts in Doha, while tourism officials are hoping thousands of tourists will take the chance to visit Manama.

“We are currently investigating whether we can bring in Australian universities into Bahrain and hopefully by the time the World Cup comes to Qatar there will be some work done on that,” said Mr Thomas.

“The other thing that we will be discussing is setting up direct flights from Australia to Bahrain and the other way round.

“There is still a lot of work to be done though and because we only represent the Gold Coast it means we have to communicate this to the rest of the Australian authorities.

“It takes years to set up an embassy so we will have to wait and see how things progress but I am sure it will be rushed as the World Cup in Qatar approaches.”

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry entrepreneurs’ committee chairman Khalid Al Amin earlier urged Bahrain firms to survey Qatar’s market and set up offices in Doha to take full advantage of the opportunity.

Photo Credit: Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa waves to spectators as he arrives before the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix. Hamad I Mohammed / Reuters