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George F. Middleton
First Word

Dear Readers,

As the year winds down and a new one is just about to begin, for many it's a time of contemplation and reflection. There are always ups and downs in life; perhaps a karmic reflection of who's been naughty and who's been nice!

Whether you're celebrating National Day or getting ready for seasonal festivities there is a tangible excitement in the air. Of course, it's much more enjoyable in Bahrain's relatively warm climate and atmosphere compared to elsewhere on the planet.

This month, guitar hero Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, the axe man for iconic rock band Guns N' Roses, comes to the kingdom to help nurture local talent, and is also taking part in a charity initiative for children with special needs. In an exclusive interview with BTM he talks about the importance of music and its role in promoting self-discipline and creativity.

Our annual review recaps the biggest business developments of the year and highlights the achievements of some of Bahrain's biggest players in a variety of industries. We talk with Gulf Air's acting CEO, Maher Salman Al Musallam, about the national carrier's recent revamp of its A330 fleet, new destinations and its plans for 2015. With a firm focus on improving customer service, the sky's the limit for the year to come.

The Westin's new general manager, Klaus Niefer, is settling in nicely and shares his plans for the renovations planned at his complex.

This issue also includes our yearly round-up of festive fare options and New Year parties, as well as a host of other events taking place around the kingdom during this action-packed month.

Also included in this edition is our annual Japan in Bahrain review, which features the first interview with HE Kiyoshi Asako, the new Japanese Ambassador. The eagerly-awaited Challenge Bahrain triathlon is set to shine a global spotlight on the kingdom. The event takes place across the island, giving participants the chance to see the best Bahrain has to offer.

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You're doing things you've never done before and, more importantly, you're doing something.

Let's all continue to appreciate the great way of life the Kingdom has to offer.