Ali Mushaima at the start of his Arabian and European adventure
ALI MUSHAIMA loves his country. Born and raised in Jidhafs and an avid traveller who's been to more than 60 countries, Ali works tirelessly to promote the Kingdom of Bahrain to anyone who'll listen. Whether its running Arab World Tours, publishing hisVisitor's Complete Guide to Bahrain, conducting a guided tour of the country or hosting a delicious dinner (cooked by his family) for a mixture of Bahraini friends and foreign guests, it's clear that he's passionate about his country and all that it has to offer.
Over the next few weeks, Ali is fulfilling a long-cherished dream by driving from Bahrain to Europe and visiting more than 20 countries in an effort to spread awareness and understanding of Bahrain and the Middle East. "Now, more than ever before in history, it's vital to promote understanding between cultures," explains Ali.
"Everyone who visits our country marvels at the friendliness of Bahrainis and our mixture of traditional and modern cultures. "His Highness the Crown Prince gave the country an invaluable gift by bringing Formula One and international recognition to Bahrain.
"Now, it's the duty of every single Bahraini to make sure that we continue the momentum and ensure that people around the world understand who we are." Ali knows - as well as anyone - how to promote Bahrain, and he's been planning this trip for several years.
After driving from Bahrain through the Middle East, he'll take in Turkey, Greece, Italy, Germany, France, Spain, Denmark, the UK and Ireland as well as a host of other countries along the way. He'll see as much as he can of each place he visits - exploring the sights, meeting locals and spreading the word about Bahrain.
He's researched every country and informed both local governments and Bahrain embassies in each capital city to secure help with publicising the trip and to organise an exhibition of Bahraini culture wherever possible. Accompanying Ali will be a journalist from the United States as well as two Danish students of Arabic culture who are re-tracing the route of an 18th-century Danish expedition of scientists who came to study in the Middle East.
Newspapers in the US, Denmark, Germany, the UK and Ireland - as well as in Bahrain - will be running regular features on Ali's progress, and the group will make themselves available for media interviews in each country on the tour. The Bahrain embassy in London will host a media reception for Ali, and the Irish government has arranged for television crews to meet the group when they arrive by ferry in Dublin.
In addition, Bahrainguide.org will contain weekly updates, and the address will be printed on Ali's vehicle so that anyone who's curious about the trip or about Bahrain can easily obtain more information. "I've travelled to Europe many times," recalls Ali. "Never once have I seen a Bahrain licence plate.
"I've always looked for one and been disappointed. This summer, there'll be at least one Bahrain licence plate in most of the countries of Europe I feel so honoured that I'll be the person driving that car." Ali is also looking forward to seeing more of Europe.
"Every time you visit a country, there's more to see and learn...and more people to meet. So many Europeans have never even met a Bahraini before. Thanks to the Grand Prix, millions of people are able to place Bahrain on a map but there are still limitless opportunities to encourage people to pay a visit to our country.
"My mission," says Bahrain's ambassador of goodwill, "is to tell people I meet along the way to come and see for themselves what Bahrain has to offerDASHęcome to Bahrain and find friends, culture, delicious food, wonderful times, beautiful architecture, lovely weather and one of the most hospitable places on earth." And, if Bahrainis or former residents happen to be in any of the countries on the affable Ali's tour he welcomes them to join him for a coffee and a chat.
"Everyone is welcome to communicate with us during the trip via the website or by texting us on my mobile. Our two-and-a-half month, 25,000-kilometre journey is really a mission of good will. There's a huge market of potential interest in Bahrain.
"Our Formula One experience taught us that. We had more than half a million hits on our own website during the six weeks surrounding the Grand Prix. My belief is that the more people hear about Bahrain, the better.
"We've a real good news story to tell. This journey is dedicated to His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa. His vision and passion started the ball rolling. Now may every Bahraini join in telling the world about our great country." Interested in finding out more? Ali can be contacted viaor on his mobile (+973 3963 7737).