A Look Back at 2020: Top Stories from the Past Year in Bahrain

The year 2020 has been like no other. It has transformed the lives of almost each and everyone of us to an extent we could have never imagined before. For many, this year will go down as one of the darkest in living memory. But amid the mayhem sparked by the pandemic, there are also pieces of good news that brought a bit of cheer.

Here are the stories that have made the headlines last year in Bahrain…

First eclipse of 2020

Manama witnessed the first eclipse of 2020 on January 10. This time, it was a penumbral lunar eclipse. During a penumbral lunar eclipse, the Sun, Moon and the Earth takes an imperfectly aligned position. When this happens, the Earth which is in between the Sun and the Moon blocks some or all of the light from reaching the Moon’s surface with the outer part of its shadow. This is known as the penumbra.

Reduction of visa charges

The charge of one-year visit visas was reduced from BD85 to BD40 while five-year visit visas were reduced from BD170 to BD60. In addition to this, the duration of student visas is expanded from one to five years and diplomatic visas from three to five years.

Thermometer on snow shows low temperatures – zero. Low temperatures in degrees Celsius and fahrenheit. Cold winter weather – zero celsius thirty two farenheit.

Record of lowest temperature                                                       

Bahrain recorded the lowest temperature of 8.2 degrees Celsius with a real feel of one degree. Sources added that the real feeling of one degree, recorded in the robotic monitoring station located in Sitra, in some areas of Bahrain was due to strong winds.

Launch of Bahrain Food Festival

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) launched the 5th edition of its annual Bahrain Food Festival at Bahrain Bay.

No shortage of food commodities

Food commodities were sufficiently available in the markets during the start of the pandemic. Food traders in the Kingdom provide food in stores on a regular basis.

Scientist working with blood sample in laboratory

Bahrain’s participation in COVID-19 vaccine testing

The Kingdom of Bahrain was the first Arab country taking part in the solidarity test as part of the ongoing efforts at all levels to contain and prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. The World Health Organization (WHO) has begun testing its first anti-coronavirus drug, produced 60 days after the genetic sequence of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) was shared by China, under the “Solidarity Trial” experiment.

Bahrain, Argentina, Canada, France, Iran, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, and Spain, will all participate in the trial, aimed at jumpstarting research for the establishment of a treatment designed to eradicate COVID-19.

Bahrain lead with highest recovery rate in GCC

On April 10, data showed that Bahrain has the highest rate of recovery in the GCC, with a whopping 59% of infected cases declared fully recovered from the coronavirus. When compared to the global rate of recovery of 22%, Bahrain is much far ahead with around a 37% better rate.

When compared to the rest of the GCC countries as well, Bahrain is leading, followed by Oman with 24% recoveries and then Saudi with 20% recoveries.

Reopening of shops and salons

Commercial and industrial shops providing direct goods and services resumed their usual operation on May 7. Salons and barbershops were reopened on May 27, provided that they follow all precautionary measures.

Revamping of resident ID cards

The third and final stage of a project to issue new and revamped identity cards for residents started on June 21. The revamped ID cards did not come with an increase in issuance fees and holders did not have to replace their currently valid cards which will continue to be accepted for all government and private transactions until their expiration dates.

Launch of new tourism campaign

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority has announced the launch of a new tourist campaign. The new campaign comprised three different stages over the year. The first, “Inspiration” is linked to digital followers through interactive announcements and live sessions. The second is “Encouragement” focused on promoting existing activities, while the third “Transformation”, embraced direct live interaction with visitors.

BD17.34 million worth of projects for citizens

Shaikh Nasser has approved a package of humanitarian projects aimed at supporting needy citizens and those who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. With an estimated budget of BD 17.43 million, the projects are within the “Feena Khair” campaign launched to support the national efforts to fight the pandemic.

Launch of first drive-in theatre

Movie theatre chain Mukta A2 Cinemas and event management group PICO announced the launch of Drive-In BH, drive-in cinema in Bahrain. The audience will be able to enjoy movies spanning a multitude of genres in the comfort of their seat alongside food, snacks and drinks, all while adhering to social distancing rules.

Milestone in aviation sector

Texel Air, an established private airline and MRO based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, announces the arrival of the latest addition to its fleet, the Boeing 737-700 FlexCombi™.  A first of a kind aircraft globally, the conversion aircraft has been developed to provide the most versatile third party cargo charter solution available in the market.

Resumption of visa on-arrival

Nationality, Passport and Residence Affairs (NPRA) announced the resuming of on-arrival visa for nationals of 68 countries at Bahrain’s ports.

Introduction of ‘boutique fares’

Gulf Air has introduced a new pricing concept of its airfares to make it easier and clearer to its passengers regarding what’s included in each price bracket. The new ‘Boutique Fares’ come in three branded options for economy class and 2 branded options for Falcon Gold class. Passengers can now choose the most suitable fare option depending on their travel needs and desired services along their trip, the company said.

A story of hope

Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer among women, impacting 2.1 million women each year, and also causes the greatest number of cancer-related deaths among women. We have shared our conversation with Erylle Hidalgo, a breast cancer survivor, about her struggles and her story of hope.

A tribute to one of the world’s longest serving prime ministers

The Kingdom of Bahrain mourned the passing of HRH Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, who was one of the longest serving prime ministers in the world. In this feature, we honored his memory, legacy and significant developmental achievements to the island.

Bahrain Grand Prix rescue team and marshals lauded

Haas Team Principal Guenther Steiner stated his appreciation for the rescue team at the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix happening at the Bahrain International Circuit. The medical and rescue staff’s incredible bravery helped Romain Grosjean escape his big crash”, Steiner said.

Appointment of new Prime Minister

HM King Hamad issued Royal Order 44 / 2020 appointing HRH Prince Salman as the Prime Minister of Bahrain.

Filipino duo

Filmed across different locations in Bahrain, ELYSSIAN’s dance cover videos are a vibrant mix of energetic rhythm, cool choreography and fantastic cinematography. Just recently, Bahrain Confidential spoke to the young duo about their videos, inspiration and a whole lot more!

Jupiter and Saturn unite

Sky watchers in Bahrain were in for an end of year treat. On December 21, two of the largest planets in the solar system were seen merging in the night sky. This rare astronomical event saw Jupiter and Saturn line up very close to each other, which is an event that takes place about once every 20 years and will last for nearly two hours.