Meanwhile at the Forum

The Motor Sport Business Forum in Bahrain kicked off to day with a keynote speech from David Richards, highlighting the development of the region in the last 10 years and drawing attention to the estimated $11bn that has been invested in motorsport in the last few years with a series of new circuits springing up and new championships being established. The conference, the first of it kind in the Middle East, has attracted a big audience, including Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, the head of Bahrain's economic development. He explained how Bahrain originally pitched for a Grand Prix.

"I took a map of the world to meet Bernie Ecclestone," he said. "I had all the races with dots on the map. There was a big gap which needed a dot in it."

Sheikh Mohammed said that he sees no reason why there cannot be three Grands Prix in the Gulf region.

"I do not see why not," he added.

Among the others speakers was Talal Al Zain, the chief executive of Mumtalakat, the company which owns a 30% share of McLaren. He said that there are possibilities that McLaren could one day have a facility in the Middle East.

"If opportunities exist to add value to McLaren and to Bahrain I don't see why not," he said. "We have to find the right idea."

The Forum marked the launch of a $12m advertising campaign entield "Business Friendly Bahrain", which will be a big feature of the Grand Prix weekend.

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