Bahrain welcomes you onboard a sunken airplane, due to open in August as part of a vast underwater theme park that spans over 100,000 square meters off a Bahraini island city.
Hoping to attract divers from across the globe with the expansive site off Diyar Al Muharraq, a city which sits across seven artificial islands. Billed as the world’s largest underwater park, its centerpiece is the decommissioned, specially prepared aircraft.
Despite the feature being of dubious taste – it hasn’t deterred the project managers.
According to Zayed bin Rashid Al Zayani, Bahrain’s minister of industry, commerce, and tourism, the 70-meter-long plane is “the largest ever to be submerged.”
The subaquatic project is the product of a partnership between the Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), and the private sector.
The diving site will also feature a replica Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, artificial coral reefs, and art sculptures.
Residents and tourists will be able to book trips through licensed diving centers by August 2019.
Officials say the new Bahrain attraction adheres to strict environmental standards and will promote marine life growth and revive the local ecosystem.
But marine specialist Adriana Humanes, who has a Ph.D. in Marine Ecology from James Cook University, Australia and is currently based at Newcastle University in the UK, says that artificial coral reefs are not always ecologically sound.
“As corals reefs in good health state become less abundant and divers become more skilled and experienced, artificial reefs have become popular alternatives used by governments and the tourism industry to attract visitors to certain areas of interest,” says Humanes.
Humanes says that wreck diving provides “unique, diverse and intriguing diving experiences” – but does clarify that there may be downsides.
“Their materials — copper, copper alloys, aluminum, lead and steel, petroleum hydrocarbons and other potential pollutants – can be subject to corrosion, [passing] heavy metals into the seawater and affecting the surrounding marine organisms.
Advisor, Mediterranean Tourism Foundation