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Star's visit 'a big boost for Bahrain'

FANS in Bahrain have slammed Islamist MPs for creating a controversy over reality television superstar Kim Kardashian's visit to the country.

They said Ms Kardashian's arrival would promote Bahrain in the international arena and MPs should instead focus their time on solving key political, economic and social issues.

The Keeping Up with the Kardashians star is visiting Bahrain for the first time to officially open the new Millions of Milkshakes franchise at The Walk Bahrain in Riffa on Saturday, in association with Sevens Holding SPC. She will fly in for the one-day visit after attending a similar launch party in Kuwait.

Her planned visit has sparked anger among Islamist legislators, who submitted an urgent proposal at the end of Tuesday's parliamentary session, where they referred to Ms Kardashian as "an actress with an extremely bad reputation".

However, the proposal was dismissed because other MPs quickly dispersed the chamber, forcing parliament chairman Dr Khalifa Al Dhahrani to end the session without voting on the issue.

"I honestly do not care what our MPs are saying as Kim's visit to Bahrain is good and will promote the country," said 39-year-old Sawsan Mohammed, who purchased the gold ticket to attend the event.

"Let anyone come to Bahrain to promote milkshakes or even a can of coke as long it helps my country in the long run and puts it on the international map.

"Some people always look at the negative side of events."

The interior designer said Ms Kardashian's visit to Bahrain was crucial.

"All celebrities go to Dubai and see how beautifully the country has developed its infrastructure. We talk about freedom of expression or opinion and yet some people or groups oppose visits by public figures," she added.

Another Bahraini, who was the first to buy a gold ticket, said she was excited to see her favourite celebrity.

"I am excited to meet Kim Kardashian," said 33-year-old Khadija.

"She has star power and is a successful entrepreneur, which cannot be ignored.

"It is great news that she is coming to Bahrain and it will be an honour for me to meet her."

Supporters also took to Twitter yesterday hitting out at MPs' decision to rally up support from the public and religious clerics against Ms Kardashian, despite failing to get the votes of their colleagues.

"You may not like Kim Kardashian, but world media will be focused on her visit to Bahrain. Let's show her the real warmth and magic of the Kingdom," said Betsy Matheison, @BetsyBBahrain, who is Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations secretary-general.

Social Media Club Bahrain chairman Ali Sabkar, @SMCBahrain, also shared his opinion about the controversy online.

"Bahraini MPs fail to stop Kim Kardashian from visiting their country - as if they have nothing else to discuss," he posted.

Tickets are on sale for the exclusive launch ceremony, where fans will get the chance to meet the star as she creates her signature milkshake.

Organisers said more than 100 gold tickets have already been sold and are available at The Walk Bahrain,Bahrain City Centre, Seef Mall and Bahrain International Airport, from 10am until 10pm.

The American socialite's visit comes days after a Twitter controversy, where she posted tweets regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict.

She later deleted her comments and said she would "set the record straight" during her visit.

Parliament public utilities and environment affairs committee vice-chairman Adnan Al Malky had urged clergymen to highlight the visit in their sermons before Saturday's event.

However, he did not confirm if Islamist groups - including Al Asala Islamic Society and Al Menbar Islamic Society - would demonstrate against the event.

It is not the first time MPs have tried to block shows and celebrities from coming to Bahrain. They earlier tried to ban Lebanese heartthrob Nancy Ajram twice and Lebanese artist Haifa Wahby in 2008, but their requests were rejected by the government.

Meanwhile, Ms Kardashian had posted a video online addressing her fans in Bahrain.

"Fans in the Kingdom of Bahrain, it's Kim Kardashian and I am so excited to see your beautiful city. I have never been to the Kingdom of Bahrain before and I just can't wait to meet you all when I come for Millions of Milkshakes. I'm so excited," she said in the footage.

Organisers have also launched an SMS challenge, where the winner will get a one-on-one time with the fashionista.

To take part, text 'KIM' to Batelco 95332, VIVA 98038 or Zain 77021.

Silver tickets are priced at BD50, where fans can attend the three-hour celebration, get a chance to see Ms Kardashian live, win souvenirs and gifts and enjoy performances by international artists and a DJ.

Gold tickets cost BD500 and holders will get up-close-and-personal with the star and pose for pictures.

They will also benefit from VIP Gold Parking, a special Gold Entrance and access to the Golden Circle.

Sources have confirmed that a small number of diamond passes were also issued for VIP fans, who can accompany Ms Kardashian from her arrival at Bahrain International Airport until the opening ceremony.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh, sandy@gdn.com.bh



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