*** ----> Bahrain MPs to investigate Boeing 747 ‘broken down to pieces’ on ocean floor | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

Bahrain MPs to investigate Boeing 747 ‘broken down to pieces’ on ocean floor

TDT | Manama

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Bahrain has invested in a unique diving site - the world’s largest eco-friendly underwater park - in an effort to increase an already rapidly growing tourism economy.

The expansive underwater dive site called Dive Bahrain is located off Diyar Al Muharraq, a city which sits across seven artificial islands, about 30 kilometres to the north of Amwaj, and in close proximity to the Bahrain International Airport.

Its centerpiece is the decommissioned 70-metre-long (235 feet) and nearly 20-metre-high (64 feet) Boeing 747 jumbo airplane, which is the largest ever to be submerged.

Since opening it to the public in August last year and until December, more than 500 divers, including 123 foreigners, have visited the park. And even after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is still an increasing number of enquiries about the park, which confirms that it is indeed a tourist attraction.


However a recent site visit conducted by MPs led by Khalid Bu Onk showed parts of the jumbo airplane were scattered across the seabed. The cause and extent of damage will now be the subject of an investigation being planned by MPs.

Built in 1981, the aircraft was bought by Bahrain from a Dubai-based airline. It is now resting at a depth of around 24 metres and positioned nose up in the water to allow novice divers access to the aircraft at shallower depths.

The world-class subaquatic project is the product of a partnership between the Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), and the private sector.


Aimed at highlighting the importance of conservation, reconnecting with heritage, and increasing diving tourism in the region, the diving site also features a 900-square-metre replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and art sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly materials that point to the nearby UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bahrain, The Pearl Trail Bahrain has always been known for its pearl diving history so it makes sense for its new diving venture to reflect this heritage with a large scale pearl merchant house.

The wind towers of the pearl merchant house extend alongside the aircraft, and extend off the sea floor by 12 metres (39 feet), placing them in the photic zone, which allows the park to explore and experiment with coral nurseries.

In addition to boosting Bahrain’s tourism, the project also gives researchers information and data on marine ecology in the region. It covers an area of 100,000 square metres.


Unique eco-friendly project

Environmental welfare has been a major consideration in the preparation for the Boeing 747 scuttling, and theme park as a whole.

Alongside the obvious positive impact of introducing large structures to host marine life and fish, the project hopes to establish a coral nursery and allow school and university students to use the park as a ‘live laboratory’ to further understand our impact on the aquatic environment.

The underwater tourist attraction adheres to strict environmental standards, and will promote marine life growth and revive the local ecosystem. The artificial reefs provide a structure to marine sessile organisms and fishes.

Bahrain has dismissed concerns the attraction may not be environmentally friendly, insisting that the plane will not harm the environment.

In preparation for its submersion, a specialist team worked for eight months to ensure the aircraft was environmentally friendly.

The Bahrain Tourism and Exhibition Agency said the Boeing 747 jumbo jet was specially prepared before it was relocated to its new home in the ocean of the Arabian Gulf.

A specialist team has spent a vast amount of time working to ensure the project is strictly compliant with international environmental and safety standards, by dismantling and reassembling the aircraft’s wings, and removing contaminants.

They also removed wires, hydraulic, adhesive, and aerial and fuel systems, plastic, rubbers, chemicals and other potential toxic substances that could be damaging to the aquatic environment.

Even the bolts and the screws were removed so that the Dive Bahrain team could clean any oil residue, before putting them back on.