A new exhibition opened at the Bahrain National Museum Monday, 23 May 2016, celebrating the strong civil and military aviation heritage between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom.
The exhibition is supported by BAE Systems and the UK’s Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum.
HE Sheikha Mai Bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Minister of Culture for the Kingdom of Bahrain, commented: “As we celebrate the 200 years of friendship with the United Kingdom, today we are launching a distinguished exhibition that displays glimpses of a long and solid relationship with the United Kingdom in the field of military and civil aviation. “Spitfire”, a collaboration between BAE Systems and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, offers an opportunity for the audience to be able to learn more about the different aircrafts that represent the important cooperation between the two countries.”
The centrepiece of the exhibition is the iconic Supermarine Spitfire, probably the most famous fighter aircraft in history, which first flew 80 years ago. This is the aircraft that defended the skies during the Second World War, including the defence of Bahrain. This Spitfire is on loan to the Bahrain National Museum from the RAF Museum, in partnership with BAE Systems.
Her Majesty's Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain, Mr. Simon Martin CMG, commented: “As we celebrate 200 years of the bilateral relationship between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the United Kingdom, I am delighted to have the chance to celebrate the depth and the richness of our relationship. Defence and security have always been key areas in which we have worked together for common interests and this is typified by the presence from today and throughout this summer of the iconic Supermarine Spitfire aircraft, on display at the Bahrain National Museum. I hope as many visitors as possible will come to see this beautiful and historic aircraft and - for those who do not already know - to learn about the important role the Kingdom of Bahrain played in supporting the UK during the Second World War”.
The Supermarine Spitfire remains the iconic British fighter of the Second World War, and Britain was not alone in its fight. The Gulf Fighter Fund, which included Bahrain, financed the purchase of 11 Spitfires to aid the war effort. These were funded by all sections of the community in the Arabian Gulf. In total, the Fighter Fund raised £50,000 (31,000 BHD) and six Spitfires bore the name Bahrain.
Sir Glenn Torpy, Senior Military Adviser, BAE Systems, and Chairman of the Trustees of the RAF Museum, said: “The relationship between the United Kingdom and Bahrain has always been extremely strong, as evidenced by this year’s 200th Anniversary. Bahrain’s purchase of six Spitfires for the RAF during the Second World War was an important sign of Bahrain’s support to the United Kingdom. This year marks the 80th Anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire, and also the 40th Anniversary of Concorde’s first supersonic flight into Bahrain.”
A number of other aircraft are on display in the exhibition, including: The Anson, the Vickers VC-10, the Blackburn Buccaneer and the Concorde.
These aircraft all demonstrate the fantastic story of aerospace development and innovation in the UK and the way that the Kingdom of Bahrain has been a constant supporter and adopter of new technologies.
Formally opened by HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, personal representative of His Majesty the King, the exhibition runs until 23 October 2016. Visitors will be able to watch videos of the Spitfire in action during the Second World War, take photographs in front of the aircraft and learn all about aviation in Bahrain.
Running alongside the exhibition is an Education programme, which gives Bahraini schools the opportunity to learn more about aviation and Bahrain.