Bahrain is experiencing a lot of hype as well as heightened security before Sunday's Formula One race, which the opposition sees as a chance to publicize a pro-democracy campaign.
Watched by millions around the world, the Grand Prix is the biggest sporting event hosted by the U.S.-allied country and the government is hoping for a healthy turnout this year, despite continuing violent unrest.
Bahrain's state news agency said late on Wednesday that authorities had arrested a man who later confessed to an incident in which a car burned and exploded in the country's financial district on April 14.
Four other people accused of stealing and burning a car near a roundabout were also arrested and another person was detained over an accusation that he blocked a main road and caused damage to a Bahraini's car.
The race at the Sakhir desert circuit was canceled in 2011 when protests were crushed and at least 35 people were killed. Activists put the death toll far higher.
Last year's race went ahead against a backdrop of burning tires and riot police firing teargas at protesters throwing petrol bombs in Shi'ite Muslim villages.
Bahrain's main opposition block has called for peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations to be stepped up before the race, saying the global spotlight shown on the kingdom by the Grand Prix would help showcase its message of reform.
In recent weeks, security forces have conducted home raids in the vicinity of the race circuit and arbitrarily arrested and detained opposition figures. Protesters have indicated they will demonstrate against the Grand Prix, with the risk that the Bahraini authorities will use repressive measures to close down the protests.
Amnesty International said human rights activists claimed dozens of protesters had been arrested ahead of the race.
“Bahrain is already tightening the lid on protest as the Formula 1 race grows near,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The Formula 1 organizers apparently prefer to bury their heads in the sand, risking holding their race against repression it has provoked.”