Discover America Week 2018 OP-ED

By Justin Siberell, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Bahrain

It is a pleasure to announce the opening of Discover America Week 2018. Discover America is a weeklong celebration of American commerce and culture, including food, leisure, shopping, sports, tourism, and more.

The relationship between Bahrain and the United States runs strong and deep; it manifests itself in categories as diverse as security and education. But this week, we would like to shine the spotlight on the powerful commercial ties between our two nations. The Bahrain-U.S. Free Trade Agreement – one of only two such agreements the United States has with GCC nations – is the most salient symbol of our economic bond. Since the FTA’s entry into force two-way trade has more than doubled – with both Bahraini and U.S. exporters benefitting greatly. Bahrain is exporting a wide range of products to the United States under the FTA, including aluminum, textiles, plastics, fertilizers, furniture, and seafood, to name a few. The FTA has also brought iconic American companies to Bahrain – companies which create good jobs for Bahraini citizens and provide unbeatable products and services for Bahraini consumers.

“Discover America,” which takes place February 10 through 15, is a great opportunity for Bahrainis to learn about and take advantage of some of those world-class American products and services. This year’s programming underscores the enduring presence of a number of U.S. companies and brands in Bahrain, as well as the incredible variety of new entrants into this market.

During the week, we will be highlighting some fantastic FTA success stories, like West Point Home textiles, which operates in Bahrain and exports to the United States. Along with the American Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain, we will celebrate the U.S. – Bahrain partnership in education and cultural exchange.

Other events through the week include a seminar on doing business in the United States and a celebration of U.S. Information Technology companies at the BITEX IT Show. We will also be visiting U.S. retailers at City Center and at the Avenues Mall, and will wrap the week up with some American barbecue and country music at Big Texas Barbecue and Waffle House.

There will be other activities and promotions ongoing and I invite you to learn more by visiting the U.S. Embassy website at https://bh.usembassy.gov/our-relationship/welcome-discover-america-week-2018/.

Of course, once you have sampled something of America on display this week in Bahrain, we hope to convince you to visit the United States to really come to know our country and its people. Our Embassy in Bahrain issues more than 5,000 visas to Bahrainis to tour, study, or conduct business in the United States. We have recently taken steps to make that process even easier, specifically by implementing an interview waiver program which allows Bahraini citizens to renew visas within one year of expiration without coming to the Embassy. For more information on travel to the United States, please visit our website at https://bh.usembassy.gov/visas/.

For over a century, Bahrainis and Americans have enjoyed a strong and enduring friendship that has made both our peoples more prosperous and secure. I hope you will join me this week to discover even more about America!