By REBECCA TORR
Published in the Gulf Daily News, Bahrain
BAHRAINI adventurer Ali Mushaima received a warm welcome in the UK on the Friendship Tour's 10th stop on a 20-country journey to help promote Bahrain and the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).
Mr Mushaima, who has been joined by various supporters along the way, began the tour from the BIC on June 22.
During his stay in the UK, Mr Mushaima visited former Bahrain residents, embassy officials, media representatives and Gulf Air staff.
"I am very pleased with the trip. People are so friendly as Bahrain and the UK have very strong relations," said Mr Mushaima.
"There are a lot of British families who have lived in Bahrain and we received a lot of e-mails from former residents, and also from the many Bahrainis who go to the UK for holidays," he said.
While in the UK, Mr Mushaima visited former Bahrain residents Briton Robin Marriott, who was former head of the Bahrain Promotion and Marketing Board, and Aine Mangan, who was former marketing manager at the Riffa Golf Club.
Ms Mangan is now the golf sales and marketing manager at a family run hotel group called The Grove, in Hertfordshire.
One of the highlights of the trip to the UK was a Bahraini day held at the Bahrain Embassy in the UK.
The event was attended by Gulf Air UK general manager Rohan Alce, former Bahrain Ambassador to the UK and Foreign Ministry Assistant Under-Secretary for Co-ordination and Follow-up Shaikh Abdul Aziz bin Mubarak Al Khalifa and media representatives.
At the event Shaikh Abdul Aziz gave a short speech about the Friendship Tour, Bahrain and the BIC and thanked Mr Mushaima for his efforts.
"I want to thank the Bahrain Embassy in London for organising the event and to Shaikh Abdul Aziz for taking the time to attend and for his encouragement and support."
Mr Mushaima had planned to stay in the UK until today, but had to cut his trip short due to the death of his father Hussain Ali Mushaima.
The travel guide publisher arrived back in Bahrain on Friday to attend the funeral of his father, who died on Thursday morning.
Hussain Mushaima, 69, had been a driving instructor for over 40 years.
Mr Mushaima will fly back to London next week to resume the trip.
"I will be contacting Ireland Tourism to fix a date for us to visit, but I will fly back to London first to collect the car, which is in Heathrow," said Mr Mushaima.
"I want to thank Gulf Air for flying me back to Bahrain and for their kindness."
After Ireland, Mr Mushaima is hoping to join team members Danish students Martin Joergensen and Christine Pagel in Denmark.
The students took a short break from the tour after France to spend time with their family in Denmark.
The Friendship Tour team will be holding a Bahraini weekend on August 28 and 29, at the Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus, Denmark.
Mr Mushaima and his team mates, who are travelling in a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi Pajero, have so far visited Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, and the UK.
The group will end their tour-on-wheels at the 2004 Italian Grand Prix, which is being held from September 10 to 12 in Monza, Italy.
Mr Mushaima said he was strongly considering a future trip next year called Access to Arabia.
It would start in Europe and finish in Bahrain and the aim would be to encourage people to follow the adventurers to Bahrain.
"We have the car now and I have a domain www.access2arabia.org, which we could be used to give people information about Bahrain and the Arab region," he said.
"We already have a guidebook on Bahrain and Yemen and we are planning to do guides on Oman and Jordan and people could access this information from the domain.
To send a message to Mr Mushaima and the group during the tour, e-mail [email protected] or telephone 36406022.
Diary of a unique journey
Reaching across borders