Home / INTERVIEWS / Face to face: Gagan Suri, Bahrain Bay

Face to face: Gagan Suri, Bahrain Bay

by James Morgan on Nov 25, 2017

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Irrespective of where in the world it was located, the development of Bahrain Bay would represent a gargantuan undertaking.

The fact that this $2.5bn (BHD950m), 43ha master-planned community is being built on reclaimed land within the Gulf’s smallest country only serves to make it more impressive.

Even so, it’s been far from plain sailing for this island mega-development. Reclamation works commenced in 2006, and sales got off to a flying start; approximately 65% of Bahrain Bay’s plots were sold during the reclamation period. The following decade, however, brought with it a series of economic challenges that have served to hamper the pace of development.

Gagan Suri, chief executive officer of Bahrain Bay, begins: “Ideally speaking, if the GCC markets had held up, if the world markets had held up, and if the collapse had not happened, Bahrain Bay – as of today – would have been close to completion. Obviously, that wasn’t the case. We had the credit crisis, then we had the GCC crisis, then we had oil issues, and there were additional challenges. All of these factors contributed to where we are today.”

So where is Bahrain Bay today? Well, as Suri explains, while development may not have progressed as rapidly as was envisaged at the outset, 2017 has been an extremely productive year for the community.

“At present, approximately 18% of Bahrain Bay is complete,” he continues. “An additional 10% is currently being developed by Bin Faqeeh, so that puts us close to 30% [either complete or under construction].

“AXA Insurance is in the process of building its regional headquarters,” Suri adds. “NSCC was appointed as the enabling works contractor for this project, and commenced work on its package in Q2 2017.  In addition, Wafra Real Estate, Ajmera Realty & Infra, and Nama International Real Estate all plan to begin work on their developments in Q1 2018.”

While Suri’s 18% figure may sound somewhat underwhelming at first, it belies the extent of construction activities that have completed to date, not to mention the magnitudes of the developments that populate Bahrain Bay’s cityscape.

For example, Bahrain Bay’s district cooling and sewage-treatment plants, which are located on the same plot, were completed during the initial phase of the development process, as was the rest of the locality’s infrastructure. Both facilities – the capacities of which exceed current requirements so as to allow for the community’s future expansion – are operated by France-headquartered Veolia.

The reclaimed island is already home to Arcapita – Bahrain Bay, which completed in 2010; Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, which completed in 2015; and a host of other projects, such as Al Baraka Bank’s ABG Tower and The Avenues – Bahrain, Phase 1 of which completed earlier this year (see box-out). Moreover, CIH Tower, which incorporates the Wyndham Grand Manama hotel, is scheduled to officially open its doors to the public on 30 November, 2017.

Encouragingly, the locality remains a hive of construction activity, with myriad projects climbing higher by the day.

Bin Faqeeh’s Water Bay, for instance, is a three-tower luxury residential project with a shared podium, ground-level retail, and common parking. Its parking levels and podium levels are now complete, and its towers are under construction. Buildings one, two, and three have reached their sixth, fourth, and second floors, respectively.

Commenting on Water Bay’s estimated completion date of Q1 2019, Suri notes: “Assuming this deadline is hit, it will take us to our 30% target of vertical development.”

With three other residential projects due to commence development in Q1 2018, progress at Bahrain Bay shows no signs of abating. India-based Ajmera Realty & Infra’s building will comprise mid- to upper-end homes, which will be sold. Kuwait-headquartered Nama International Real Estate, meanwhile, intends to develop a variety of residential units on its Bahrain Bay plot, some of which will be sold and some of which will be retained.