Recently appointed as the Chairman of the Board for the Bahrain International Circuit, Arif Rahimi has long been part of the BIC, with his involvement since 2008 through his roles as a Director of the Board and Chairman of the Audit Committee. As a qualified accountant by profession, Arif’s impressive résumé includes his role as the Managing Director of the Masar Group of Companies, he also provides advice to families and business owners on different aspects of their organisations. Additionally, he is a Director of the Board and Chairman of the Audit Committee for Batelco, and has been appointed by His Majesty as a member of the Judicial Committee to focus on real estate projects in the Kingdom. Arif spoke to Perle Magazine about the 2016 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, which will be held 1-3 April, and the preparations for the Kingdom’s biggest annual motoring event.
What is something you are looking forward to at this year’s race?
I look forward to welcoming the fans to the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix. It’s going to be a wonderful event with something for everybody and the perfect place for a good time with family and friends.
I am definitely looking forward to the race. I have no doubt there will be just as much, if not more, excitement as the last two Grand Prix night races we have hosted.
What are your anticipations of this year’s Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix?
I anticipate another brilliant race with plenty of action to be enjoyed by the fans, both those who will be attending and the millions of others who will be watching on live television around the world. The introduction of the night race format in Bahrain over the past couple of years has been an incredible success.
I am hopeful that 2016 attendance records will break those of the past, including the 100,000 mark we achieved over the three days of the Grand Prix weekend back in 2010 and the 32,000 total fans on Race Day alone last year.
With an unbelievable line-up of artists, our fans can expect three fantastic evenings of live performances to enhance their F1 experience.
How do you think this year’s race and events will differ than those from last year’s?
Regarding the race, I expect it to be a lot more unpredictable, being so early in the season.
In past years, we would usually host the fourth round of the championship and some of the leading contenders would have already established themselves. However, for 2016 we are staging the second round so the teams are still in the process of finding out how they can get the maximum out of their cars, leaving the race wide open.
With the introduction of the Haas team to the 2016 race season there will now be 22 cars lining up on the grid, which is the most we’ve had in recent seasons.
Also, there are a few changes to the rules and regulations for 2016, one of which has resulted in the return of the noisier engine, which fans have been calling for. Drivers such as former World Champion Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari have also welcomed this development and I think the fans will get a thrill out of it as well.
Over the race weekend our fans will be able to experience a variety of off-track entertainment and events available in the F1 Village. Each year we try to offer something different for the enjoyment of the fans.
This will be Bahrain’s third night race, how do you feel the success of the previous races have been and will the decision be made to change the race back a day-race?
I believe the night race is here to stay. BIC have invested in a state-of-the-art floodlighting system, which has elevated Bahrain as a unique spectacle of the Grand Prix season.
Over the past two seasons, we have received tremendous feedback from all those involved in the event, including the drivers and teams, the fans and international media. As an example our 2014 race, which marked our 10th anniversary and our first Grand Prix ‘under the stars’, was remarked as “epic” and “the Grand Prix of the century” by a variety of parties.
How do you plan on encouraging more people to attend the race and get more traffic?
We have a professional management team that does an excellent job of promoting the event and I am confident we will achieve our attendance targets.
Each year we try to improve with new methods and strategies to encourage the fans and get them excited about our event.
We also run an Early Bird discount period each year on tickets. This has helped ticket sales, particularly with our international fans.
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