Bahrain, home of the Formula 1 driver’s helmet factory

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A small kingdom in the Gulf, Bahrainis known worldwide for its prestigious Formula 1 competitions. In Sakhir, in the desert south of the country, the enthusiasm for this sport has spread to the industrial sector, with a factory that makes helmets for pilots.

About 20 kilometers from the capital, Manama, in this region that has hosted the Bahrain International Grand Prix circuit since 2004, Helmets are proud behind a window at the entrance of factory racing force, the only one in the Middle East. It is the large Italian industrial group specializing in motoring luggage.

These helmets, made for the American brand Bell Helmetwere worn by champions such as the British Lewis hamiltonthe Monegasque charles leclercThe Spanish Carlos Sainz as well as other members of the Ferrari, McLaren or Alfa Romeo teams, proud Aref Yazbek, general director of Career Strength.

Among the exposed helmets is the one used by the French pilot Romain Grosjean in an accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix, miraculously surviving. “The helmets we make here are worn by 14 of the 20 drivers who entered last month’s Bahrain Grand Prix“, which corresponds to the opening test of the year in Formula 1, Aref Yazbek told AFP.

Inside the factory, workers in gray T-shirts ensure the safety of helmets that have been made for the last time. Some manage to polish the helmets while others give them the final touch by decorating them with different colors and then sticking sponsor logos. The helmets are then packed in cardboard boxes to exporting it to more than 80 countries of the whole world.

Bahrain and its super-rich Gulf neighbors have opted for sporting competitions to diversify their economies, which rely heavily on the export of hydrocarbons, but also on improve your international imageoften shrouded in accusations of human rights violations.

In 2004, Bahrain became the first Arab country to host a Formula 1 race.before being joined a few years later by the United Arab Emirates and its Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, then Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

In the 1990s, the brand’s helmets were produced mainly in China before expanding to other countries such as Italy and Belgium in the early 2000s. The choice of Bahrain, a relatively rich but little industrialized country, was favored. entry into force in 2005 of a free trade agreement with the United States. Manama and Washington are very close diplomatic and military partners, and the Gulf kingdom is home to the US Fifth Fleet.

“It is very important to us more than 55% of our products are exported to the United Statesone of our biggest markets in the world”, explained Aref Yazbek.

According to the company, the Sakhir industry employs more than 500 people of 35 nationalities. In 2022, the Racing Force factory in Bahrain produced over 45,000 helmets and around 55,000 memorabilia sold to F1 spectators. The group aims to increase production levels by increasing the size of its facilities from 7,000 square meters to around 12,000 by the end of the year.

Source: La Verdad

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