As Bahrain adjusts itself for the post-oil economy, it is destined to become a service economy, more akin to a smaller European nation living off the industries of larger regional partners, writes CNN's London correspondent Richard Quest in an exclusive column to domain-b
When Fernando Alonso won the weekend's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, it started the battle for the 2010 Formula One Championship. It is a battle that will take 12 teams to 19 cities around the world.
While the British Grand Prix at Silverstone might have more history and the Monaco race in Monte Carlo is more glamorous, few of this year's locations say as much about their destination as Bahrain. Everything about the race and its track told me something about the country and its current transition to change, with all the controversy that goes with it.
The changes to the circuit have been introduced to make the race more versatile with some changes to the landscaping give the event a feeling of being in the desert.
Translating this to the country and you find a nation being pushed into the 21st Century by its rulers, His Majesty King Hamad ibn Isa Al Khalifa and his son, the Crown Prince. They have already introduced a limited form of consultative democracy and Prince Salman, the Crown Prince is pushing hard for the private sector to take more of a role in the economy.
''We have to,'' the Crown Prince told me. ''We are moving into a far more diversified economy that is dependant on the private sector. We have to build an economy built on productivity.''
This is a refreshingly blunt acknowledgement that while ''the oil and gas won't run out in the next 10 years,'' there is not much time before the country has to face this problem.