Gulf Air has announced the launch of Dublin's first ever scheduled services to the Middle East with a new route to Bahrain.

From December 2, 2005, the airline will operate a three times weekly service - on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sunday - to its hub at Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The development of long haul services to the Middle East is an area that has been pursed by Dublin Airport for some time now. It is the airport's first long haul scheduled route to a destination outside of North America.

The Minister of Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, said the new service will be good for tourism to the island of Ireland. He said it will offer even more choices for long-hual travelers from the growing markets of Asia, Australia, the Middle East and South Africa.

Dublin Airport Authority's CEO Declan Collier said the airport will work closely with Gulf Air to support the route network into the future.

Gulf Air's network stretches from Europe to Asia and covers 44 cities in 30 countries. The fleet comprises 34 aircraft.