A new passenger terminal at Bahrain International Airport has been officially opened two years after it was completed.
At the opening ceremony, also attended by Prince Salman bin Hamad, Bahrain's Crown Prince and Prime Minister, a guard of honour saluted the three leaders, while Bahraini ardha songs were chanted as they were welcomed.
Kamal bin Mohammed, chairman of Bahrain Airport Company, said the new airport terminal was one of the fastest yet built.
“In line with the king’s directives to take care of the Bahraini citizen as they are the core and goal of development, we have invested in national competencies and cadres during the implementation period,” he said.
“We are proud that they are the ones who operate and maintain the airport.”
The 210,000-square-metre terminal increases the airport’s capacity to 14 million passengers a year.
The new terminal building took just four years to complete, after construction began in April 2016.
Visitors are greeted by gleaming marble walkways and vast plazas, lined with trees, shops and restaurants.
The airport has been commended for its unique design, with ceiling styles, lighting and some special artwork contributing to a relaxing ambience.
Bahrain International was named as the world’s best new airport at the Skytrax 2022 World Airport Awards held at the Passenger Terminal Expo in Paris, France.
The awards are based on World Airport Survey questionnaires completed by airport customers during the eight-month survey period from 2021 to 2022.
It evaluated passenger experience across airport services, from check-in, arrivals, transfers, shopping, security/immigration, through to departure at the gate.
Bahrain became only the third airport in the Middle East to receive a five-star Skytrax rating, while its Pearl Lounge also received a five-star rating for its hospitality and meet-and-greet services.
Tokyo Haneda Airport was voted the world's cleanest airport by Skytrax, and also the world's best domestic airport and the best airport in Asia.
King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh secured the award as the world's most improved airport.
Bahrain hopes to lay down a marker as a tourism hot spot in the Gulf in the years ahead to rival neighbouring destinations in the UAE and Oman.
The new passenger terminal was the first project to be completed as part of a wider development project that includes seven five-star properties, beachfront developments in Bahrain Bay and a new national exhibition centre.
The island’s capital city, Manama, is making preparations to host World Cup fans hoping to use Bahrain as a base for matches in nearby Qatar when the tournament kicks off in November.