BIDEC 2017

From the pre-show press conference of BIDEC (Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference) on 15 Oct 2017, Bahrain:

Brigadier General Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Commander of the Royal Guard, Chairman of the High Organizing Committee of the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference said: “Bahrain’s hosting of the first edition of BIDEC underscores a number of important facts. The exhibition industry in the Kingdom of Bahrain has been very successful and the BIDEC exhibition and conference is one more example of this success. This will give the Kingdom a foothold on the international map in this vital investment and promotional field, with the aim to achieve excellence and produce creative ideas in the industry.

HH Brigadier Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, noted that a number of important events will be hosted at the exhibition, which will enhance Bahrain’s position as a leading destination in hosting international events and enhance the exhibition’s role. The exhibition will include many spectacular shows in various locations in the Kingdom, offering parachute, archery, military vehicle and combat shows.

HH Brigadier Shaikh Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee, said that the participation in the exhibition is broad and includes major international companies specialized in the defence industry. More than 50 senior military and political leaders, politicians and decision-makers from various fraternal, friendly and allied countries will take part with over 180 international exhibitors, manufacturers and providers of the latest equipment and technology and military systems. There are 115 platforms in the exhibition that will attract decision makers from governments, armies and defence industries from more than 60 countries. The conference will additionally feature 800 participants from within and outside the Kingdom. More than 20 expert speakers from around the world will participate in the conference, and more than 3000 visitors from inside and outside the Kingdom will attend the exhibition.

H.E. Shaikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, the Chairman of Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (DERASAT), the Chairman of MEMAC, and the Spokesperson of BIDEC, said: The Conference is an important event in today’s changing world. Through this international Conference, we hope to establish platforms for open discussion and strategic ideas to build bridges of understanding so that we can find acceptable solutions to existing challenges and work towards regional and global peace, security and stability, as capacity-building and sharing of information is critical to building such a common vision.”

The CEO of Bahrain Authority for Tourism and Exhibitions H.E. Shaikh Khalid bin Hamood Al Khalifa said that the Bahrain International Defence Exhibition and Conference 2017 further positions the Kingdom on an international level. Such large scale events portrays the Kingdom’s capabilities among the Arab and international markets. The event will act as a platform to exhibit the latest trends within the defence and military sector that can contribute to the growth and development of the military infrastructure in the MICE sector.

Mr. Tim Porter, the Managing Director of Clarion Defence & Security Clarion Events, the largest organiser of defence and security events in the world said, “As a launch event into a new market, BIDEC has surpassed our expectations across all areas, and we are expecting a fantastic turnout from visitors across three days.”

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Pièce de Résistance

Geographically, the beautiful island of Bahrain may be small. But the cultural and artistic events happening within its confines hosted by the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities – BACA – and other organisations, are many.

BACA itself organises several events throughout the year. Festivals and Annual Activities includes Bahrain Annual Fine Arts Exhibition, where space, colours, imagination and boundaries merge; Bahrain Summer, the journey of musical to theatrical; Ta’a Al Shabab, a month-long event involving youth in culture; Bahrain International Music Festival, an expression of musical talent from home and abroad; Spring of Culture, an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences and learn about the intellectual underpinnings of different nations and Heritage Festival, taking the people from now to then.

Though the various events fall in the same time of the year, the themes keep changing. This year’s Food is Culture event had Bahrain National Museum as the venue. Confluence of the minds of Chefs and Artists was the theme. MyRefractions visited one such event during the month of January 2017.

Meeting with Chef Brian and Chef Pierre was the highlight. The chocolate palm tree was the pièce de résistance of the evening.

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Date palms represented Middle-Eastern culture around the world. A drive through the palm-laned road leading towards the magnificent Ritz-Carlton hotel in itself is a memorable experience. Imagine a date palm that snaps at your touch, made with the most delicious, just-sweet, nutty, creamy and melt-in-mouth dark chocolate with real Dates. That was the experience presented by the Executive Chef Brian of re Asian Cuisine and Head Chef at Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant “CUT” both at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain whose culinary inspiration began in his grandmother’s kitchen, and Pierre, professional Pastry Chef at Wolfgang Puck’s “CUT” restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain, whose love of pastries comes as an artistic medium which fuels his passionate creations and the Artist Somaya Abdulghani who is specialised in photography, collage and mixed media, seeking to promote Islam’s enlightening nature by creating rhythmic and organic patterns that combine forms of Islamic art.

In a higher conceptual level, one would find it hard to separate the space of cooking and that of art.

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The passionate audience had a casual enjoyable time interacting with the Chefs and the Artist. They also relished the chocolate palm tree and made it vanish into thin air within minutes much to the delight of the Chefs and the Artist who created it.

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The event brought to surface the complexities within the intermingling of the two seemingly different worlds… and a treat for the palate and the mind of the discerning intellect.

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Farmers’ Market

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Highway leading to Budaiya, the venue of Farmers’ Market 2017, got slower from almost a mile away. Typical of any event. Almost all the vehicles carried families with children. After finding a parking nearby, the place was a short walk away. It was a sunny and pleasant Saturday in January. Mild breeze among the many date palms lining the tiled walkways carried smell of vegetables. The botanical gardens in Budaiya, maintained by the Agriculture Ministry, hosted the Farmers’ Market as it did for past several years. Photographs were shot randomly while walking around the market…

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A mild climate conducive of growing vegetables in Bahrain starts from October typically. However, the summer lingered on till late November in 2016 and the weather turned mild towards mid- to end-December. Christmas really felt like that in Brisbane; warm. Farmers’ Market in Bahrain usually started in early December and lasts till the first few months of the following year. All Saturdays of the month, from 8 AM till 12 noon, Budaiya gets some extra action.

Breakfast Corner (actually it is an open space) visit was top on the list. Not that we three were hungry. The idea of tasting some authentic Bahraini food always appealed to us. Fresh vegetables were so appealing that from the moment we saw the first stall, the shutter was relentlessly moving up and down (or was it sideways? Should have paid more attention during the many photography workshops attended.) Tomatoes, Cauliflowers, Pumpkins, Chillies, Zucchinis, Cucumbers, all those leafy vegetables – that the family doctor always reminded to consume more, Beetroots, Bell Peppers, to name more than a few. Mint led the list of herbs. Those on sale were so fresh and untouched so unlike what is sold by the regular stores that it seemed to have made just for decoration and not for cooking.

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Flowering plants were on sale. Hyacinths and Pansies were more popular. Geraniums were rare. Bougainvilleas scattered themselves among others. As we walked forward, the air began to smell of waffles. Waffles would have been a complete misfit in such an atmosphere. We followed the waffles that led us to a stall where several people – women and children mostly – patiently waited for their turn to collect their favourite snack: pan-baked bread. Thin, crunchy, mildly sweet made up of batter.

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The best part of the Farmers’ Market was not the display of the local produce. It is about the people and the smile on their face. Met several families that included expatriates and the local ones. Business was casual with occasional bargaining (well, no one ever bargained in a super market) and tasting of the fresh produces.

Stall owners found time to chat about their farms in different parts of Bahrain. 17 years of stay made it almost possible to locate many. Children played as the sun rose while other wide-eyed ones kept wondering about the many colours of vegetables. From red, green, yellow and purple that is grown in their own Bahrain.

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Reason for Everything

Visited local stores for the best ingredients.
Shortage of mixed peel was unusual this year.
Not a single store carried them.
So
went and bought fresh Navel oranges; scoured and peeled and sliced the peels 1/4″.
Boiled them peels, rinsed and repeated thrice.

Candy thermometer. Sugar solution.
Latter tricky without the former.
Orange peels, again.
Got them candied, got them dried.
End result: better than store-brought ones.

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More photos follow…

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the kitchen.
A clean glass bowl.
Sultanas, Raisins, Black Currants, Glacé Cherries (washed, dried and halved) in St. Remy brandy.
Set aside after securing with cling film.
Mixed every other day and added more Remy if needed.

Mise en place seems to be the word, to begin with, from this point.
Everything in place before starting.
Preparing the baking tin to preheating the oven.
Glass bowl of dried fruits made succulent by the St. Remy for weeks.

Unsalted butter with lesser water content at room temperature.
One would do well if the stand mixer with balloon whisk attached is avoided for this preparation.
Hand mixer with whisker attachment is more suited.

All-purpose flour.
Mixed spice. Cinnamon.
Whole Nutmeg. Grater.
Pinch of ground, coarse, sea-salt.

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Zest of Oranges and Lemon.
Freshly squeezed juice of one orange.
Dark brown sugar. (Tried Muscovado?)
Treacle.
Five fresh, brown, medium-large eggs.

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Bowl #2 readied.
Measuring cups, spoons.
Wooden spoon. Wooden spatula.
Silicon spatula.
Parchment paper.
Walnuts Brazil nuts Almonds
Most chopped and some slivered.

1. Cream butter.
Kids will be around for a bit of taste.
Dark Brown Sugar and Black Treacle are also in great demand.
2. Whisk in eggs kept at room temparature, one at a time.
3. Spoon in flour, a spoon at a time.
4. Maintain 150˚C in the oven.

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Mixture looks curdled.
Keep paddling…
Gentle on the mixture, please.
Gluten, unwelcome.

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5. Scoop the cake mixture into the prepared bake-tin.
6. In goes the tin to the pre-heated oven for 3-4 hours.
7. At 2 1/2 hours, kids will start to visit the kitchen as the aroma arises and begins to fill the home.
8. First time the heated oven is open once the batter is in is after 2 1/2 hours.
9. Skewer comes out clean or not?

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Anticipation builds from the day the dry fruits are soaked in brandy.
(Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?)
That day would be almost a month before Christmas.
Day the cake is baked, hopes are high.
Who will eat what and how much and who gets to keep the decor-berry and ivy for the new year.
Thankful that the cake did not carry fancy, pastel pink roses and cloud-white, Royal icing.
(Editor: The kids’ Mama baked one with all the above accessories almost bringing the house down).

Mittens… where are the mittens?
(So much for the mise en place).
Cake out of oven on to a cooling rack.
Not so lovely as once thought.
Wait, kids, tomorrow we decorate the cake.
Excitement builds up again.

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Dusted confectioner’s sugar hoping to get a it-just-snowed effect.
Berry-ivy-leaf decor, one. Picked that from the local M & S.
Is that all? Kids asketh in chorus.
Yes, that’s all. Pâtissier replieth, solo.

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Tiny plates.
Knife, the sharpest.
Shouldn’t it cut through the nuts and dry fruits?
Serving time…

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Note: The orange peels, lemon zest and treacle make the cake a bit bitter. And the dark brown sugar and the mildly sweet sultanas and raisins brings in some sweetness. Nutmeg and cinnamon tries their best to add in the spiciness. A bitter-sweet-spicy cake? Yes, I would say. But you know it’s much more complex-er than that.

Now comes the best part…
Sharing the cake with others.
The cake is carefully sliced, wrapped carefully in parchment paper, tied carefully with strings and now ready to be shared.

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Spiritual part
The spirit of Christmas in the air filled with hope, felt by everyone around is perhaps the greatest gift of the season. Sharing the bounty of blessings showered on each one of us by the Almighty is the next best. Bondage between simple human mortals based on unconditional love comes a close third.

Change the order – hope share bond love
if you may,
but that is what
Christmas is all about.

Rest everything is just a reason.

Let us carry the remnants of Christmas spirit all through the New Year.

Wishing you a Bright & Happy New Year!

Arne Hodalič

Arne Hodalič grew up and studied biology in Ljubljana (lyoo-BLYAH-nah), Slovenia. After finishing university, he was working for five years as a professional sailing boat skipper and diver and had his own charter company on the Adriatic coast in Croatia. He began taking photos, mostly of boats, diving and nautical activities. His first trip to India in 1989 changed his professional career when his photos were published in a prestigious Swiss magazine Animan. He received more than 20 assignments from the magazine and travelled extensively around the world with his camera. In Paris he joined Gamma Press agency and began working for French press as a member of several photo agencies.

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In 2008 he received an honorary doctorate at the Academy of Arts and Design / University of Ljubljana and became a lecturer in photography and photojournalism at FDV (Faculty of Social Sciences) University of Ljubljana and at VIST (Visoka šola za storitve) in Ljubljana. He is currently the photo editor of National Geographic Magazine (Slovene edition).

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Met Prof. Arne during a workshop conducted by the Diplomatic Protocol Society at the Downtown Rotana Hotel in Bahrain recently. The photographs are from the photo walk around Suq Manama that followed the lecture.

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BIAS 2016: Glimpses

The organisers of the Bahrain International Airshow confirmed that the Bahrain International Airshow saw its strongest international presence to date reflecting the event’s growing standing in the global aviation event calendar and cementing strategic relations between key nations.

[Note: If you wish to see the photographs in a larger format, please visit “Bahrain Airshow 2016” on the menu above. Thank you for visiting].

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The show saw representation from the US, UK, France, India, Russia and Turkey. Furthermore, the high level aviation event will also see more participation from MENA states, with the largest participation yet from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, from which numerous companies including Saudi Arabian Airlines joined for the first time, alongside Kuwait Airways, Emirates and previous attendees Qatar Airways. Multi-national organisations included Airbus, BAE Systems, Boeing, Chevron, CFM, Finmeccanica, Lockheed Martin, Rolls Royce, Turkish Aerospace Industries, TAG Aeronautics and Thales Group.

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The exhibition feature hall at the show has also allowed a growing number of international SME businesses to attend the show with national pavilions from the India, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and the UK. The popularity of the feature hall, which was introduced at the last edition of the show in 2014, has resulted in a size increase of almost 50% for 2016.

Team NCSIST BIAS 2016

Speaking about the growing international participation, His Excellency Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications for the Kingdom of Bahrain and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Organising Committee for BIAS said, “The Bahrain International Airshow is a real platform for trade and business. With so many countries represented, it allows businesses to bolster and build new partnerships. With the value we bring through our extensive delegations programme we offer all our participants the opportunity for extensive networking and discussion.”

HH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain HH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister of Bahrain

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain with India's Minister of External Affairs of India, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj
His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain with India’s Minister of External Affairs of India, Mrs. Sushma Swaraj

[Note: The above photograph was published by the Gulf Daily News on 26.1.2016].

Team Sarang, Indian Air Force
Team Sarang, Indian Air Force

Seller of Beads

The fair came to the village.
Again.
After a long year of anticipation.
There was excitement in the air
as the day of his return neared.
For he would bring the magic of beads
In all beautiful colours
And shapes.
He would show off each of his treasure
by wearing some;
by holding out some others;
by leaving more on the walls.
The girls laughed to see the display,
A man wearing beads? they would ask.
The fathers were content to see the laughter of their daughters
that enriched those jingles of the wears.
So was the heart of the wise, gentle soul..
the Seller of Beads.

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British Fighter

The Supermarine Spitfire remains the iconic British fighter of the Second World War, and Britain was not alone in its fight – Bahrain, through the Fighter Fund, financed the purchase of 10 Spitfires to aid the war effort. These were funded by all sections of the community in the Arabian Gulf. In total, the Fighter Fund raised £50,000 (31,000 BHD) and six Spitfires bore the name Bahrain.

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The aircraft was well known for its elliptical wings. Indeed a hair-raising experience to hear the sound of its supercharged Rolls Royce Merlin engine and up close. Spitfire entered service in 1938, with 20,321 Spitfires built over 24 variants and its last operational RAF sortie came in 1954. The actual model sen here was originally ordered in June 1943 and built in 1945.

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The Fair in Autumn

Fun for all the family, the annual 9 day consumer fair features thousands of products from around the world. From handy household items to mouth-watering food stalls, popular fashion to children’s toys, new to market products to old favourites – the Autumn Fair has something for everyone!

Now in its 25th edition, the Autumn Fair is Bahrain’s largest and most popular consumer products show. This well established retail fair showcases a wide array of merchandise from across the globe, ranging from specialty foods to textiles, and furnishings to electrical goods.

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The unique atmosphere created by the Autumn Fair consistently attracts over 150,000 shoppers from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, whilst also acting as an important sourcing venue for distributors and agents in the Gulf region. The entire exhibition centre becomes a colourful bazaar, transformed by traders who have traveled from far and wide to Bahrain, bringing with them their country’s best exports. The largest international groups assemble to form national pavilions and include countries such as China, Egypt, Yemen, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria, UAE and Pakistan.