World Aquatics Will Open Centre of Excellence and Regional Office in Bahrain

World Aquatics Will Open Centre of Excellence and Regional Office in Bahrain

The new World Aquatics Centre of Excellence in Bahrain is the organization's fifth such center, and first in the Middle East. Archive photo via World Aquatics

World Aquatics (formerly FINA) has announced that they will open a new centre of excellence for aquatic sports and a regional office in Bahrain.

The center will be based at the Box Park campus of the University of Technology Bahrain. Besides the World Aquatics infrastructure, it will also serve as the new domestic training base for the Bahrain Swimming Association.

Bahrain’s land is made up of a series of islands on the Persian Gulf in the Middle East, including 50 natural islands and 33 artificial islands. The main island is Bahrain Island, which includes most of the country’s 1.5 million population.

Bahrain is a wealthy oil-rich nation that declared independence from Iran in 1971. Besides their natural resources, the country has also become a banking center for the region.

Bahrain has seen growing international sporting success in recent years. After never winning an Olympic medal through the 2008 Games, they have won four in the last three Olympics, though all four were won by Ethiopian or Kenyan-born athletes who were paid millions by the Bahrainian government to immigrate and become citizens.

Bahranian athletes have competed in swimming at every Olympic Games since Sydney 2000. In Tokyo in 2021, Abudlla Ahmed was disqualified in the prelims of the women’s 100 fly, while Noor Yussuf Abudlla finished 60th in the 50 free in 28.87. Both swimmers were teenagers at the time.

“Bahrain is a nation of islands, united by the water that surrounds us,” HH Shaikh Khalid Bin Hamad Al Khalifa said. “With an ever-increasing diversity of partnerships, Bahrain continues to be one of the leading sports hubs in the World. We have a very clear understanding of the value of aquatic sports. And we are excited to contribute to the future of World Aquatics, not just for Bahrain but for our region and the world. We look forward to hosting leading aquatics athletes from different nations, and helping them achieve their sporting dreams, both as development athletes and as participants in World Aquatics competitions.”

“Today we have witnessed a historic agreement where the private sector will fully align with the government’s vision of promoting sports tourism in the Kingdom of Bahrain.”

Al-Khalifa, head of the Bahrain Olympic Committee is an avid open water swimmer, having completed the 31.5 km swim linking the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with Bahrain, across the Gulf of Bahrain.

The World Aquatics Centre for Excellence could be an opportunity for Bahrain to develop home-grown talent. The center in Bahrain will include new pools capable of training five of the six World Aquatics disciplines: swimming, water polo, artistic swimming, diving, and high diving.

World Aquatics currently has operating centres of excellence in Thanyapura (Thailand), Dakar (Senegal), Cape Town (South Africa) and Davie (Florida, USA). The centers are typically located in areas where there is a need for development of aquatic sport, or adjacent to such areas: two centers in Africa, one in Southeast Asia, and another in Florida, but in close proximity to the Caribbean, represent regions where aquatics athletes have been historically underrepresented at the elite level.

The Middle East, although economically developed, is another area that has historically been underrepresented in top-level aquatics. Egypt is the only Middle Eastern nation to have ever earned an aquatics medal at the Olympics, but not since the diving competitions in 1928.

But the region will receive more focus now with the new president of World Aquatics Husain Al-Musallam hailing from nearby Kuwait, another Persian Gulf state. Kuwait likewise has very limited history in swimming at the Olympic Games.

“I am extremely excited by this partnership with Bahrain. Our bold plans for a centre of excellence here will serve as an example to the world,” said World Aquatics President Husain Al-Musallam. “Our high-performance athletes are at their best when they can benefit from the right mix of facilities, coaching and sports science. World Aquatics is determined to ensure that this mix is available to athletes from all our national federations. And we are delighted to include an educational component with the help of the University of Technology Bahrain.”

“Aquatic sports are universally important. Both the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and the World Aquatics Championships – Budapest 2022 saw over 180 nations represented. We are grateful to Bahrain and to the hosts of our other development centres for their help in ensuring aquatics athletes everywhere have the chance to fulfil their true potential.”

As part of its centres of excellence program, athletes and coaches from around the world, especially places where aquatic infrastructure is underdeveloped, are able to live and receive world-class coaching, often under scholarships from World Aquatics.

Among the success stories from this program, launched in 2013, is El Salvador’s Marcelo Acosta, who became his country’s first-ever swimmer to achieve an Olympic “A” cut.

The project is in partnership with the GFH Financial Group and the Bahrain Swimming Association.

“GFH could not be more excited to partner on this initiative, which has such importance for the Kingdom of Bahrain and for World Aquatics,” said GFH’s CEO and UTB Chairman, Hisham Alrayes. “The project aligns with GFH and UTB’s long-time commitment and ongoing support for the further development and promotion of Bahrain as a leading regional centre for education and sports tourism. We look forward to working with World Aquatics and the Bahrain Olympic Committee to create a unique platform to attract aquatics athletes from the region and around the world to gather, train and develop their skills in Bahrain and to support the realisation of their potential in sport alongside that of the Kingdom.”

This filth reeks of a Neuberger and Roush deal. Let’s see who ends up collecting coach income from this. One would not have to be too far inside to make some easy guesses. Let’s just keep calling it fina so we remember the past fascist leadership. World Aquatics branding does not change the corrupt deals that sells their soul regularly, just the skin.

Filthy dictator. World Aquatics doing business in all the most corrupt places where they can get dirty money.

60& of Bahrain’s exports are oil, which represents 70% of government revenue and 11% of GDP. It ranks 10th in the world in oil production per/capita.

It’s no Saudi Arabia, but its land area is 293.4 square miles. Saudi Arabia’s land area is 830,000 square miles.

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …