By VADM John Miller
Greetings from the Kingdom of Bahrain! I arrived on the evening of March 10th and deplaned into Bahrain’s magnificent new airport. The facility contains all the attributes of a beautiful, modern, efficient, and friendly airport. The Government of Bahrain has organized portions of the new facility in order to deal with the pandemic, but with the exception of having to fill out a medical form and obtain a Covid test before leaving the airport, the new facility provides as much automation and efficiency as one could expect.
The mandatory Covid test added about ten to fifteen minutes to the departure from the airport to the hotel and I was able to track the results via the BeAware Bahrain App on my phone. I was delighted to receive the results, which were useful to allow me to move about in Bahrain and to gain approval to be granted return entry in the United States in less than 24 hours. The App also tells me if I have come in contact with someone who has tested positive. This automated contact tracing system is reducing the number of Covid cases in Bahrain.
It is clear that Bahrain is beginning to return the pre-pandemic level of activity. The Kingdom is not there yet, but everything I’ve seen in my short time here, helps me to understand that Bahrain is carefully returning to normal. Social distancing and face masks are required, and it seems that everyone is in full compliance.
The point in sharing my experiences during my first visit to the Kingdom since the pandemic was declared is that, by all accounts, Bahrain is carefully and safely coming back to “normal.” America, with a larger population and federated government is recovering as well, but the recoveries will be different and will proceed on different timelines.
In just a few short months we will be able to mix and mingle again without the concern the pandemic has naturally instilled in most. The ABFS board is working on a monthly schedule of virtual events for the remainder of the year but is also considering the process we will use to move from virtual to hybrid, where members who aren’t yet ready to attend in-person events can still join virtually.
Related, with the permission of His Excellency, membership dues for 2020 have been suspended and remain suspended thus far in 2021. For those members who paid dues for 2020/2021, we’re working on the plan to settle accounts. New members who join in 2021 will not have to pay dues until 2022, so this is an excellent time to recruit new members – free memberships at the time we are also beginning to conduct events is enticing and I encourage all members to attend events as schedules allow, and to bring along a few friends!
ABFS continues to enjoy great support from His Excellency and from the Kingdom, so we are well positioned financially to make it through the pandemic!
Please stay safe and healthy!
John W. “Fozzie” Miller is a retired United States Navy Vice Admiral who last served as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in Manama, Bahrain. He is the President of the American Bahraini Friendship Society (ABFS).