Bahrain’s Crown Prince decides the race is off

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix will not take place, according to the race organisers.

The Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa said: “We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of national interest.

“Bahrain’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country together to remind the world of the very best that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

Bernie Ecclestone said: “It is sad that Bahrain has had to withdraw from the race, we wish the whole nation well as they begin to heal their country.

“The hospitality and warmth of the people of Bahrain is a hallmark of the race there, as anyone who has been at a Bahrain Grand Prix will testify. We look forward to being back in Bahrain soon.”

With the Bahrain Grand Prix not happening the Australian Grand Prix on 25th-27th March will be the first race of the season.

It remains to be seen whether the race will be postponed until a later date or cancelled entirely.

Williams chairman Adam Parr said: “It is obviously disappointing for everyone involved in the organisation of the event, but it is clear that to race in Bahrain at this time would be inappropriate given the current circumstances.

“It is always Williams’ intention to contribute positively to the countries we compete in and so we fully support the Crown Prince’s decision to cancel the test and forthcoming Bahrain Grand Prix.

“We now look forward to a season debut in Melbourne and returning to Bahrain when it is right to do so.”

Renault team principal Eric Boullier added: “The recent situation in Bahrain has been very difficult for the country. We feel the decision taken by the Crown Prince is wise and we fully support it.

“The Bahrain Grand Prix has always been welcomed with enthusiasm from the Bahraini people, and we’re looking forward to going back there when they have healed their country. We will now amend our logistics accordingly and will get ready for Australia.”

The chairman of the Bahrain International Circuit Zayed Alzayani said he hopes F1 can return to the circuit soon:

“Bahrain’s Grand Prix is a time of celebration and hosting the race is a source of great pride for Bahrain and Bahrainis

“It is a showcase to the world and we look forward to welcoming the teams and drivers and everyone involved in Formula One back to Bahrain in the very near future.

“I hope that F1 and our friends around the world will understand our decision at this difficult time.”

The FIA also issued a statement on the race which it referred as being “postponed”:

“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile supports the decision of the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit to postpone the scheduled first Grand Prix of the 2011 season due to be held in the Kingdom of Bahrain on March 11-13.

“This decision is the outcome of the close co-operation between the FIA, Formula One Management, the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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121 comments on “Bahrain’s Crown Prince decides the race is off”

  1. Can anyone let me know how they get on with getting refunds on flights, hotels, the F1 tickets themselves, etc… I saw this on the F1 ticket site:

    Terms and conditions
    Cancellations and Changes: This Activity cannot be changed or cancelled. No refunds, credits, exchanges, or cancellations of this Activity are allowed. Refunds will not be issued for unused or partially used attractions or services.

    1. Typical Bernie.

      1. It’s also not really typical Bernie. Its standard terms and conditions for sporting events.

        1. UPDATE 23/2 Bernie has not charged Bahrain for a GP they are not hosting. He is quoted as being determined to reschedule this year, but FOM will foot the $40 million or so bill if they cannot hold event this year. So then not really “Just about the money” as many speculated!!

    2. Hi Mark,

      I don’t know the contract details, but this wouldn’t fall under normal terms and conditions. If you bought it as part of a pre-paid package (i.e. it was reliant on the grand prix going ahead) then you may have a force majeure clause in the contract or something similar.

      If you booked flights/hotels separately to the F1 tickets though, in which case you’ll probably have to call them up to ask. I’d imagine you may find that difficult though, especially with the loss of profit from the hotels etc. You’ll defo be able to get the F1 ticket price back though.

      1. *as the part you have quoted refers to you cancelling, not the event itself being cancelled.

      2. On the other hand, the flights and hotel tickets might be easily be cancelled based on the travel advice as it currently stands.

        The US has the negative advice (only essential travel) in place for reviewing only on the 18th of March. That would make it impossible to go there for a GP.

        1. yep thats also true. It really depends on the contract to be honest. The UK also has put out a travel warning. I’m not sure that alone is enough to warrant the contract being cancelled/refunded though. It is a warning after all.

          It’s more likely to help with the flights than the hotels i’d say.

          1. Given that going would probably invalidate your insurance, the UK message should be enough (it’s not due for review for a month either). It should be sufficient for flights and for anything done as part of a package.

            I’m not sure if tickets can be refunded, but ask away – even if you can’t get a refund, you’ll likely be able to get the same ticket for the re-arranged event (which is likely to be in several months’ time).

      3. I just spoke with the customer service people for the F1 tickets and they said everyone is getting their money back and they’d ring me in a few days to confirm.

        I booked my hotel through and got to cancel it for free. Now all I need to do is get the money for my flight back from Turkish Airlines (wish me luck) and then pick another grand prix to go to this year :)

        1. Did you pay on a credit card? If so and if you have no look with the airline, then going through your credit card company might be easier.

        2. Consider going to Turkey. A very decent track, not to expensive and you could try to get Turkish Airlines to just transfer your flight to there!

          Not sure about where to sit though, I heard the runoff makes it hard to get close to the track.

    3. I’ll be on the lookout for information on that.
      First thing is, they might postpone it. If you have a package deal, that might be moved as a total.

      Not too sure about it though.

      1. If an event doesn’t go ahead because of unforeseeable events, then the contract is “frustrated” and any services not provided up until the date of the frustrating event should be refunded.

        Plus – if you bought tickets/flights etc. using your credit card (not debit card) and the cost exceed £100 (shouldn’t be hard!) then your card company have to pay up anyway.

        1. you’re right Rachel – but that assumes that the purpose of the trip is known to be F1.

          That’s why i’m unsure if the hotel/flights might get refunded.

          Generally though, credit card company will cover it thats also true.

          1. @ sw6569 – not sure why else someone would be going to Bahrain that weekend!

            Its a good point though – if you bought a package together including F1 tickets, then it should be covered.

            If you’ve booked individual items yourself, then you might need to rely on your travel insurance/the credit card protection. If you paid by debit card and don’t have insurance, you might have a trickier time of it.

    4. Given the current travel warnings in place regarding Bahrain, I don’t think whether the flights/hotel were booked as part of an F1 package should matter.

      People are being advised not to travel to Bahrain – that should make it very easy to get a refund.

    5. don’t worry, they’ll refund you. But next time think twice before booking in advance for a f1 event. I am sure that circuit in particular is never sold out, and you can buy the tickets at the track.

    6. Just cause F1 is off, does’nt mean we can’t go back to racing Camels. Omar’s Camel has a very secret Exhaust system that is very hard to get a good look at!

  2. This is best for the country

    But I’m disappointed as an F1 fan since there’s now 2 more weeks to go until the season opener….

    1. Let’s be honest, that is a very trivial problem compared to what they are having to deal with in Bahrain right now.

      But, I wonder if the replacement test will be hyped up somewhat into a special event to try and create some pre season excitement for us all? If Ferrari get their way, maybe they could make a bit of a mini testing championship out of it!

      1. Certainly having it in Spain will get a lot more viewers there than would have been the case in Bahrain (that is in Bahrain without the protests).

        Sure I am sad the race could not go through, but mainly because of the reason for that. And having Melbourne as the first race is not too bad.
        I loved getting up for the opening race, doing it for the second is a bit strange.

      2. I want a Non-Championship race at Portimao, or something.

        1. It won’t happen, but i’d love to see that too. Portimao is a gem of a track

        2. That would be great. Shame it is not going to happen.

      3. But, I wonder if the replacement test will be hyped up somewhat into a special event to try and create some pre season excitement for us all?

        I’d like to pen this open letter to the F1 teams:

        “Dear F1 Team’s peeps and peepettes,

        Since the cancellation of the Bahrain GP, not only sad day for us as F1 fans but sad for the people of Bahrain in terms of their predicament, in light of events I propose a congregation held in honour of the Bahraini people at a track of FOTA’s choosing.

        This meeting would not effect the championship standings but would be to celebrate several things, The Hospitality of the Bahrain citizens, Robert Kubica’s recovery and for F1 fans to unite for them.

        We would be grateful if you could come to an agreement with a track for the weekend of March 12th, failing the acquisition of a circuit for the weekend, a night race could be held in my local Supermarket car park, it has really good tarmac.

        The Collantine Club”

        What do you think?

        1. Must be worth a try, LOL

        2. COTD, for sure!

        3. Just cause F1 is off, does’nt mean we can’t go back to racing Camels. Omar’s Camel has a very secret Exhaust system that is very hard to get a good look at!

    2. HounslowBusGarage
      21st February 2011, 16:24

      I agree. I think it’s for the best for lots of reasons. Just bad for the fanatics with withdrawl symptoms!

    3. And the good news is that Melbourne is back to the season opener, where it rightly should be.

  3. honestly, this was the only acceptable solution… good for F1, Barhaini people have more important problems to care for.

  4. For a while I was beginning to fear Ecclestone was crazy enough to keep the race on. That would have been an utter farce. I’m glad that some sort of common sense has finally prevailed

    1. Says something that the Crown Prince of Bahrain seems to display more common sense than Bernie!

      1. Actually, I take that back. Slightly insulting to the Crown Prince.

        1. I think that the decision was left to the crown prince simply because nobody in F1 from the drivers to the teams to Bernie wanted to be accused of making a political decision.

          1. Exactly.

            They were in a damned if you do damned if you don’t situation.

  5. Bad news for the F1 fan, good news for Bahrain and for F1 in general.

    Here’s hoping that Bahrain can now sort out its political issues and for a safe/exciting (we can hope) grand prix later in the year!

    1. I second that.

  6. As much as I would like to, I will not make any geopolitical or Bernie commentary here.

    This is the best decision simply for the safety of everyone involved in what is a very fluid situation.

    Ok…I give in. Let’s get rid of this race at this sleep-inducing track!!!

    1. “Ok…I give in. Let’s get rid of this race at this sleep-inducing track!!!”

      I’ve always liked the track (ignoring the Loop); it’s good some good gradient changes, a few really challenging corners and the races there haven’t been too bad. 2010 would have seemed a bit better too if the director actually showed the overtakes and not just Vettel at the front.

      1. Fully agree. Another area for Bernie to work on now they have a bit more time.

        Actually catching the on track action would have made Bahrain a solid race instead of a snore fest.

      2. OOh, I have an idea. I hope FOM is reading this. Maybe they can, in the future, implement simultaneous broadcast of multiple camera feeds (maybe 2×2 on a big screen TV?). Then the viewer can decide to zoom in on the angle he likes. Or just follow his own favorite driver. It’ll be interactive TV.

        Well, real interactive TV would require drivers to respond to my tweets from inside the cockpit real-time, but I digress.

        1. This would be possible today, but I’m sure it won’t happen before some time…

        2. Hmmm. I’ve never actually sat in front of an F1 race and thought, “You know what would make this better? If I was the director.” I like to concentrate on what’s happening rather than fiddling with 50 million controls trying to get the camera angle I want.

          Sometimes I would prefer it if the director focussed on something other than what he is showing (I’m looking at you, Fuji TV) but that’s very different to wanting to call the shots myself.

          Maybe there is a market for a paid-for subscription service with “interactive” features (even though there wasn’t last time Bernie tried it in the UK), but I would hope the free-to-air, centrally directed broadcast wouldn’t disappear.

          1. I’ve never actually sat in front of an F1 race and thought, “You know what would make this better? If I was the director.”

            I know what you mean.

            But on the other hand I have watched certain races and thought. “You know what would make this better? If a blind, inebriated monkey was the director.”

          2. LOL Keith. Crude but oh so true!

            Bernie take note

  7. Common sense prevails, finally. Hopefully F1 will be back there before long, but only once the problems have been dealt with amicably.

    Anyway, looking forward to the season as it should be – starting down under and ending in style in Brazil!

  8. The right decision, though waiting another weeks is hard. Starting the season with the Austalian GP is the better option anyway; much better track/spectucal.

  9. So with Bahrain gone that opens up 2 weekends (the test and the race). You think we’ll see 2 extra tests or just 1 to make up for Bahrain’s missing one? If there’s only 1 test that leaves a 3 week gap to Australia.

    1. I second that.
      With all the rules changes that are in place this year, it’d be very wise to allow 4 more days of test taking place in the week before or after Bahrain was supposed to.

  10. Interestingly, Steve Hood (of Codemasters) says that the cancellation might not change whether or not Bahrain will be in the F1 2011 game later this year (he tweeted that it’s not CM’s decision anyways).

    1. All I hope is that its in the right order! It’d be good to have another track in there, even if its not part of the calendar. They need to make up for some of the disappointments from the last game anyway!

      1. It’ll be easy for Codemasters to re-shuffle the order. It’s just the fact that the track has already been created, albeit for the minor change of reverting to the original layout, which will requite some modelling tweaks and some new AI pathing.

        So it’s more a question of whether they want to leave it out. It’s in there, it’s had time and money spent on it. If it’s posponed to later, they can just change the order, re-write some notepad files and whatnot.

        If the Bahrain race doesn’t take place this year, they can always leave it in as some kind of bonus track, or something.

        1. hopefully a hidden unlock for changing jacques villeneuve’s name!

          1. And a track in the shape of an F1 car!

        2. re-write some notepad


          1. FAIL!!! let’s start again

            re-write some notepad files


        3. What? Thats what it’ll be, essentially.

    2. I hope it’s in. It’s actually a fun circuit to drive (<3 S2 in the original form).

  11. A question.

    Would this be a decision made by Bernie or by Jean Todt?

    (of course, this is massibely simplified, but I’m interested)

    1. It’s notable that we haven’t heard a peep from the FIA about the whole thing.

      Ecclestone said they’d do what the Crown Prince said.

      1. It’s notable that we haven’t heard a peep from the FIA about the whole thing.

        Mr Todt is asleep. ssshhhhhhhsss

      2. That figueres. Bernie left it to the CP to call it for moneys sake as well as keeping good relations going.
        And Todt would hardly want to be seen to fail a key supporter of his election.

      3. isn’t updated yet either.

      4. I have noticed the lack of the FiA’s involvement, but I wasn’t sure if that was because they simply weren’t in control of the decision or because they are a sporting body and wish to distance themselves from any politics.

        Certainly though, this is different to anything under Mosley’s reign, so interesting nevertheless. I was just wondering who would have the final say, because its likely to be the FiA’s decision whether to race I would have thought, as Bernie only holds commercial rights. (I think)

        1. We just might get a press statement, say midweek, stating that in light of the recent developments, the FIA sees no other possibility than to accept the request of the BIC and lay the matter of cancelation of the race before the FWMC. This will be possibly adressed during the september FIA World Council meeting.
          Until then no further announcements will be made.
          or something along those lines.

      5. I think JT did mumble something a week or so ago about “wait and see”, but otherwise, yes, the FIA have been very quiet.

        Quiet seems to be the FIA’s MO these days.

  12. Let’s hope the Bahraini political system and the Bahraini citizens come out of this in a good way so they can genuinely strut their stuff next time around.

  13. A good decision to cancel the race. They should go back to testing at Jerez for another 4 day stint. The first three days could be testing and then the final day could be qualifying in the morning and a test gp in the afternoon.

    1. Can’t imagine them ever doing a “test GP” – which we would all love!

      The teams and sponsors would never spend that amount of money for no gain nowadays!

      1. Too true, unfortunately.

  14. So empty grandstands next year? No one will book tickets for the 2012 GP now, since everyone will be worried about protests happening and the GP being canceled again.

    If the Crown Prince is nice, he’d offer all the ticketholders free tickets (and flight and accommodation?) for next year’s GP, but I guess he didn’t get to be ruler by being nice.

    1. But if they succeed, then there might actually be a fair amount of Bahraini people on the grandstands.

  15. That’s a relief.

  16. It’s the correct decision for the Bahrain people. But I’m honestly not going to miss the race. It’s one of the most boring tracks on the the calendar anyway.

  17. Its sad as i was looking forward to the season kicking off but in all honestly sort of happy as Australia is a much better opener.

  18. I would have liked the race to have gone ahead, but if this is best for Bahrain, then I support the decision.

  19. It’s sad, but the correct call.

    It’s sort of like deciding whether or not to carry on with a backyard birthday party for you 6 year old child while your family is being held hostage in the house by desperate people.

    Mark Webber has the correct perspective on this.

  20. Keith I love the fact that they havent even mentioned this on the official F1 website yet :) easily the best f1 site :)

  21. Do we have any news as to what’s happening in the GP2 Asia series? I’m suspecting that it’ll be cancelled as well, which seems to make a bit of a farce out of the whole competition…

    1. it was cancelled last week

  22. A shame but a sensible decision.

  23. I think this was the only sensible option. If the situation in Bahrain stabilises the race could be rearranged for the end of the season if they are prepared to pay Ecclestone enough money, although I wouldn’t be surprised there will be no 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.

  24. for everyone who booked a flight…. It is most of the time better to pay maybe $100 extra to reschedule your flight for a later vacation, because cancel the flight would result in a bigger money loss, unless you purchassed a fully refundable ticket. Use it for another race. And you wouldn’t lose too much money.

  25. I thank you all in supporting the Bahraini people. I understand what people there are going through.

    I’m Egyptian, and I spent the last month in continuous protests against the government, until we finally got rid of our dictator, and we’re now heading towards a new democratic and liberated era.

    Although I’m a hardcore F1 fan, but I’d rather see the race at Bahrain gets called off and people there wins they’re liberty and freedom in return.

    1. Congratulations on your new future. I hope you are able to realize the dreams you have for your people and your country. You deserve it!

      Maybe in five years there will be an Egyptian Grand Prix at Luxor?

      1. Thank you ManjuBoy! A Grand Prix at Luxor? I’d love that! Or a grand prix at the Pyramids maybe?? Imagine! :)

        1. Congratulations to getting things moving. Keep up and learn from mistakes made in the past!

          I did see your people are being supportive of neighbour Libya as well. They need all help they can get.
          Maybe get your army to bomb a few airfields so they stop bombing their own people would be great, but I understand your military not being to happy to act like that in a foreign country.

    2. Congratulations on your victory. I had to watch my country’s revolution from abroad 20 years ago and when I was watching events in Egypt unfold now, there was more than a little part of me that wanted to be there too. All the best to you.

  26. Good, time to bring back the Race of Champions at Brands Hatch?
    Lousy weather but saw James Hunt win there in 1976…

  27. I love how all the teams say they agree or “fully support” the king’s decision as if their opinions actually mattered or their support was necessary. (especially Williams lol)

    I suppose now Ferrari will go their usual route and declare that they don’t support the king’s decision.

  28. @I always thought a non points optional pre-season race was a darned good idea…

  29. I believe this is the right decision in the present circunstances. But I will miss it anyway. I do like the Bahrain GP a lot and I remember pretty good races there (well, a wet Bahrain race would be tops. Unlikely, though).

    I would have Bahrain instead of Silverstone or Valencia anyday, really.

  30. A sensible call, and I think that this will obviously mean the first race of the season will take place a bit later is a rather trivial concern under the circumstances.

  31. As much as I will have to cope with the shakes and a fiery rage for a further two weeks due to my formula one craving not being satisfied, there are much bigger things at stake here.

    My thoughts are with everybody in Bahrain.

  32. Sensible decision (Whoever made it) Cold turkey for an extra couple of weeks, but I’m sure Keith will keep us occupied for the additional 2 weeks. I hope the people of Bahrain get the future they deserve.
    Away from the politics, rights and wrongs (and not wishing to sound unsensitive to the people of Bahrain) will this play into Mclarens hand, I’m sure Lewis and Jenson will appreciate the extra time even if in the simulator. They certainly look like the need it after the Barcelona tests.

  33. The right decision. And, if I may say without being there, encouraging wording from the prince’s statement – for international consumption though it may be. Only good thoughts to the good people of Bahrain.

  34. A friend and I bought tickets, flights and booked a hotel in Manama for the Bahrain GP at the end of 2010. I’ve been looking forward to it hugely, so was extremely anxious when the unrest began and it emerged that the race might be threatened. I’m sure there will be a lot of people who were in a similar situation – checking the news every day for the last week or so to see how the situation developed.

    Cancelling the race is probably the right decision. The start of a new F1 season should have a celebratory atmosphere, which, with all the security and tension, wouldn’t have been present in Bahrain. Any kind of radical behaviour from protesters, justified or not, would have been a disaster for the sport and the safety of the teams, fans and circuit staff is paramount. The situation is more severe than anyone in the UK knows, and they clearly need time to talk and to bring about change.

    That said, from a purely personal viewpoint, I’m totally gutted that we won’t be going.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      21st February 2011, 21:17

      Ouch. Huge sympathy.

      1. Take the money you get back from Bahrain and go to Abu Dhabi or Spa ;)

  35. Well, if you can’t trust Ecclestone to make the hard decision that’s right for the people of Bahrain when they’re trying to pressure an autocratic leader for change, you can at least trust the autocratic leader to do it… How’s that for irony?

    Honestly, I think that if the positions had been reversed, Ecclestone would be sending in the bombers and the Crown Prince would have canceled two weeks ago. I’d have a beer with the royal family before I would Bernie and his circle.

    Not that the royal family would have beer, but you know what I’m saying.

    1. especially not, seeing as they are muslims and do not drink.

      1. Delete: “do not drink”.

        Insert: ‘should’ not drink.

  36. I hope the tension in Bahrain calms down to the point this race can be held toward the end of the season. Not a good track for a final race or race toward the end of the season (I know people say its a boring track, but theres much worse). In the end though its more F1, and less of a wait for the next season to start!

  37. Ha! And people simply assumed that they’d hold the race regardless of the situation in the country.

    1. That was when they were assuming Bernie would make the call. Turns out that the prince has either some honor or some sense left in him – both things that were ruled out long, long ago as far as Ecclestone is concerned.

    2. Are you for real PM?

      1. Go back and read some of the comments in the article about Bernie deferring the decision to the Crown Prince. A lot of people thought that the Prince would hold the race regardless. Even the protestors claimed that the Prince was only willing to negotiate because he wanted the race to go ahead.

  38. Well we knew that it was a matter of when rather then if the cancellation will come.I feel sorry for that but similarly that’s the best outcome that the come from it.Three things they can do if they want the race back,
    1. Have it after the Chinese GP as there is a huge gap then to the Turkish GP.
    2. Have the race during the summer break (if at that time it isn’t too hot in Bahrain)
    3. Have it at the tail end of the season.

  39. I guess this means Jules Bianchi wins the GP2 Asia series!

  40. Yasser Mansour
    22nd February 2011, 5:00

    it seems these days whoever wants something protests and he’ll get it , guess I’ll protest against cancelling the GP, I was planning to go :(.

    it’s really a shame , I know people there , they say it’s only that pearl roundabout that is causing some problems .. I wished they would wait another 4 days and I’m sure every thing will be calm ,, I think it already is

    1. Is that you Crown Prince? Everything may have calmed down, but would certainly not be safe and problems resolved…

      I think it is innappropriate to say the least to imagine holding a GP where those who would have ordered the response given the to protestors would be schmoosing with the VIPs.

      I’ve read Laks post, and what is certain is that while some of the reporting of events may be somewhat questionable, there are bigger issues for Bahrain to sort out in the short term.

  41. Well it sounds like a good thing to me… sorry for the F1fanatics that had tickets and travel plans for the race but I think that what happened had to happen.

    Off topic: I’ve read about the earthquake in Christchurch NZ, and I hope that any fanatics there and their families are safe tonight.

    Cheers, Alex

  42. It sucks for people who bought tickets, but lets not indulge in the surreal propaganda coming out of the goverment there that the race will be back on after about restoring unity, or something. The “tragedy” for Bahrain to overcome is the govement gunning down defenseless people in public and beating up journalists, etc. The events will be overcome either by the CP getting the boot—a la Tunisia, Libya, Egpyt—or his boot coming down yet harder on the people. In the first Scenario F1 wont return, because Bernie won’t get paid, in the second, F1 shouldn’t bother to return.

  43. no refund on the 2year old childs life killed yesterday morring while the us 5th fleet sit and watchin in port..F1 MUST NEVER GO BACK TO THE COUNTRY UNTILL THE CROWN PRINCE STEPS DOWN.OR HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE LIKES OF BAHRAINS CROWN PRINCE OF MURDER.


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