Sinking decommissioned jumbo jets into the Persian Gulf is an unusual way of attracting tourists, but that’s what Bahrain is going for. The Kingdom of Bahrain is planning to create the world’s largest underwater theme park, a 1,076,391-square-foot dive site, complete with a sunken Boeing 747, art sculptures, a replica Bahraini pearl merchant’s house, and artificial coral reefs.
The dive park, set to open in summer 2019, is Bahrain’s latest attempt to grow its tourism economy, by making the country a premier diving destination in the region.
In response to concerns that the dive site might not be eco-friendly, a spokesperson told CNN Travel that “all aircraft surfaces will be subjected to a high-pressure wash with bio-friendly detergents to ensure all post-production coatings, oil, and grime are removed. Furthermore, a vast amount of time has been spent removing contaminants from the aircraft. This has included removing all wiring, all hydraulic, pneumatic, and fuel systems, as well as all adhesives, insulation, plastics, rubbers, chemicals, or other potential toxic substances.” But concerns remain about the leaching of heavy metals in the sea water and the safety issue linked to the corrosion of the structure.
As monumental as this project may be, Bahrain isn’t the first to sink an aircraft to create a diving site. A sunken 727 in Mermet Springs, Illinois featured in the 1990s movie US Marshals now acts as a popular dive site. There is also an old 737 in the Stuart Channel off Chemainus in British Columbia, which divers can explore, and Turkey lowered an Airbus jet into the Aegean coast, to serve as an artificial reef in 2016.