Fira in the Gulf States
Fira de Barcelona has made its international presence one of the key elements of its strategy. It has set up 20 delegations in different parts of the world, covering a total of 43 countries where it can attract potential exhibitors and visitors to the fairs of Barcelona, and opportunities for businesses. The latest office to be incorporated into the commercial network of Fira de Barcelona is that of the Gulf States, which is based in Bahrain.
This part of the world makes us think of deserts, petrol, luxury and monarchies with a rich history, but beyond these clichés, what are these Gulf States really like?
The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf was set up to foster collaboration and coordination in the areas of economics, finance, trade, border policy and research. It is made up of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman, although the region should properly also include Iran and Iraq.
Today’s expanse of desert offers little to indicate that it was once a fertile region with valleys and marshes where the first humans took refuge. As the cradle of great civilizations and religions, its strategic geographical location is still important, and its weight in the world economy is decisive. Its activity is almost entirely based on its petrol and gas reserves, along with finance and luxury tourism. There are many Spanish companies and experts working in a variety of projects in this part of the world.
This is a broad description of the characteristics of the Gulf States:
Bahrain. Known as the kingdom of the two seas, it consists of 33 islands and has its capital in Al-Manama. It is the smallest of the countries, with a surface area of only 740 square kilometres (Andorra has 468). It has a population of 1,250,000, and its per capita income is 25,730 dollars.
Kuwait, which was in the headlines due to the invasion launched by Iraq in the first Gulf war, measures just under 18,000 square kilometres. There are 2,735,000 people living in the country, and average per capita income is 33,600 dollars.
Qatar, with Doha as its capital, has 12,000 square kilometres, which is the equivalent of a third of Catalonia, and a population of nearly 2 million people. The country which sponsors FC Barcelona through its Qatar Foundation, and is the home of the influential broadcaster Al Jazeera also has one of the highest average incomes in the region, at 72,800 dollars.
The United Arab Emirates is made up of several kingdoms (Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras al-Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al-Quwain) that combine a presidential federal system with the traditional monarchies of the region. It has 83,600 square kilometres, with its capital in Abu Dhabi, and a well-developed economy: $55,600 US and one of the highest-ranking human development index scores in Asia. In 2012, one pavilion from the Salón Piscina of Fira de Barcelona took part in the ME Pool & Spa Fair in Dubai.
Oman, with its capital Muscat, has a population of 3 million who live in an area of 212,000 square kilometres, which is a little larger than Italy, and an annual average income of around 25,000 dollars.
Saudi Arabia, with its capital at Riyadh and the influence of Mecca as the spiritual heart of Islam (cities which will be linked by a high-speed train built by a Spanish consortium), is the powerhouse of the region: The country itself covers 2 million square kilometres, the greater part of the Arabic Peninsula, and it has a population on nearly 30 million people. Its average income is 22,600 dollars and it possesses 24% of the world’s oil reserves.
*Main photo courtesy of the Qatar Tourism Office.