MANAMA: The first phase of the world’s largest underwater theme park has been launched by Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA).The launch was announced during a press conference held at Diyar Al Muharraq and attended by government officials and local and international divers. A highly specialized team implemented the required procedures and preparations for the aircraft’s submersion in an area that is approximately 20 meters deep. This included ensuring necessary safety measures are in place, reassembling the aircraft’s wings, which had previously been dismantled for the aircraft to be transported to Bahrain, and attaching foundations.The Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism and chairman of BTEA board, Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, noted that the project will reinforce Bahrain’s reputation as a leading regional tourist destination.The unique dive site, which covers an area of 100,000 square meters, will have a 70-meter long decommissioned Boeing 747 as its centerpiece, the largest ever to be submerged, he added.Residents and tourists will be able to book trips through licensed diving centers by August, he said, noting that there will be no fees imposed by the Ministry or the BTEA.“We are proud to launch this unique eco-friendly project in partnership with local diving companies, the Supreme Council for Environment and the private sector,” he said.“The new theme park will undoubtedly emerge as a global tourist attraction. The world-class project covers an extensive area, and will provide an unforgettable experience for both tourists and diving enthusiasts alike. This initiative also aims to revive the Kingdom’s marine ecosystem and to preserve the local marine environment by incorporating international environmental standards. It will also position Bahrain as a global leader in the field of eco-tourism and marine wildlife preservation as well as further developing the tourism sector as a main contributor to the national economy and an important source of the diversification of the national income.”Al Zayani highlighted BTEA’s close cooperation with Diyar Al Muharraq in designing and building a 900-square-meter pearl merchant’s house that will also provide researchers with rich information and data on marine ecology and biology as well as being a major boost to the Kingdom’s eco-tourism sector.Supreme Council for Environment Chief Executive Dr Mohamed Mubarak bin Daina said that the ground-breaking project is unique in its compliance to strict environmental standards. Preparing the aircraft for submersion included removing wires, hydraulic, aerial and fuel systems, adhesive, plastic, rubber, chemical materials, and all possibly-toxic substances to preserve the marine environment.The site will provide an exceptional dive experience as it will include several structures in addition to the aircraft, such as a replica of a traditional Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs and other sculptures fabricated from eco-friendly material, all submerged to provide a safe haven for coral reef growth and a habitat for marine life.Hasan Janahi, an avid Bahraini diver, commended the high environmental and regulatory standards of the theme park, noting that such structures will enhance marine life, and attract local and international divers.This unique eco-tourism experience is a testament to the Kingdom’s rich history that is heavily influenced by the sea. The site of the project was determined following rigorous field investigations, a technical team coordinated with The Survey and Land Registration Bureau to determine the most appropriate area – one that is not only deep enough, but also where the seabed has the appropriate conditions to withstand the weight of the plane.The project is implemented in accordance with best global practices for better environmental sustainability to ensure that tourist activities do not damage the environment or the marine life.The project will provide researchers with rich information and data on marine ecology and will raise awareness on the growing importance of preserving precious marine habitats.The project is in line with BTEA’s long-term tourism strategy that aims to facilitate the attainment of Bahrain’s Economic Vision 2030 in addition to enhancing the Kingdom’s regional and international standing, under the ‘Ours. Yours. Bahrain’ slogan.