Bahrain Duty Free

Bahrain Duty Free aims to scale “world class” heights with new airport terminal stores

The opening of a new terminal in coming days will mark a milestone for aviation and travel retail in Bahrain. Bassam Al Wardi, newly appointed Chief Executive Officer and Board Director at Bahrain Duty Free, tells Dermot Davitt about how the new facility will transform the traveller experience and offer brands a powerful showcase.

Bahrain Duty Free is set to launch a new era in the company’s history on 28 January with the opening of the new Passenger Terminal Building at Bahrain International Airport. The company is pledging to deliver an experience and store environments at “world class” level in the new facility, Chief Executive Officer and Board Director Bassam Al Wardi tells The Moodie Davitt Report.

The retailer is also beginning a new journey as anchor retailer at the location in joint venture with the airport. As reported previously, Gulf Air Group Holding (parent company of the airport and national airline) and Bahrain Duty Free Shop Complex (BDFS) signed a joint venture agreement in 2018 governing the core duty free shopping offer. Bahrain Duty Free has revealed a new brand identity for the opening (pictured right) along with a video of the transition to the new environment (below).

From its current 1,600sq m the retailer will occupy 4,700sq m of space, offering an opportunity to better showcase the major categories, and for brands to deliver premium and impactful presentation of their products.

Al Wardi says: “The new environment is bright, spacious, and with a wide perspective. It is beautifully laid out and is very different to what you will see anywhere else. It makes use of the high ceilings within the new terminal, and will catch the eye of our travellers. We believe we have one of the very best duty free shops in the region.”

Categories that will benefit in particular include fragrances & cosmetics and fashion & accessories, including jewellery & watches.

Bassam Al Wardi: One of the best duty free shops in the Middle East

“How we have partnered with the brands, who can now express themselves much better here, makes for a great story. We offer wider exposure than ever to beauty for example,” says Al Wardi, “in what I would liken to a high-end department store or premium mall of brands.”

P&C names that are new to Bahrain Duty Free include Le Labo, Frédéric Malle, Roja Parfums, Kiehl’s and Makeup Forever, with much expanded space for, among others, La Mer.

In fashion & accessories there are stand-alone stores of over 50sq m each for Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Emporio Armani and Victoria’s Secret alongside existing brands such as Hugo Boss, Montblanc and Tumi.

Swarovski, Tous and Pandora lead an impressive jewellery area, while Bahrain Duty Free will also reveal a new specially designed sunglasses concept for the terminal.

“With space restricted, luxury has not had the space it deserves until now. But that is all about to change,” says Al Wardi. “We knew there was demand, we knew about the potential numbers and luxury will be a real highlight.”

An official Apple store, a first for the retailer, will provide an anchor for a new-look consumer technology zone in departures.

On the move: Bahrain Duty Free produced this video showing its transition to the new terminal and stores

Other innovations include a special VIP area with personal service for shoppers, where they can relax and browse as well as view the offer and purchase. Al Wardi says: “Customers tell us a lot about what brand or categories they want, but do we hear enough about what kind of service they are seeking? We are aiming to address that, with value-added services on top of the shopping experience.

“We have created niche, semi-private areas where high-end, high-value shoppers can go to relax, have a coffee, pay through a VIP Express service, perhaps with their purchase gift wrapped or packaged differently. It appeals to some travellers and is also a more personal and private way to shop and transact in COVID times.”

A cigar and smoking lounge comes in at around double the space of the previous facility at 40sq m, with personal service and refreshments a key element here too, alongside the chance to buy from all categories in this striking area.

Space for arrivals duty free meanwhile has been substantially extended, from 190sq in the current terminal to 420q m in the new building.

In another development, Bahrain Duty Free has conceived enhanced shop & collect facilities including a fully automated locker system that reduces human interaction. So the shopper can place an order on departure, receive a digital receipt and collect through the locker on arrival. A similar plan is in place for online click & collect services, which will be introduced in coming months.

Watch out for more details soon as The Moodie Davitt Report tracks the opening of the new terminal and the unveiling of its key commercial spaces.

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The Moodie Davitt eZine Issue 290 | 26 January 2021

The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 15 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd). © All material is copyright and cannot be reproduced without the permission of the Publisher. To find out more visit and to subscribe, please e-mail

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