Atkins' Glover flags Durrat Al Bahrain challenge

Consultant says project has widely fluctuated off Bahrain's coast

Only three of the five petal-shaped islands have villas built.
Only three of the five petal-shaped islands have villas built.

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The swift expansion and contraction of major projects in the Gulf during turbulent economic circumstances has been highlighted by the plight of the stalled Durrat Al Bahrain project.

Consultant W S Atkins, which has been involved with Bahrain’s 20km2 on-and offshore development, revealed that the population intended for the residential part swelled from around 30,000 to around 90,000 within two years, only to rebound again as sales and funding started to dry up. Further features, such as a marina and onshore golf course, also fluctuated, according to Lee Glover, project manager.

“The general concept evolved over time as originally it was small scale, with a target population of about 30,000 at the start,” he said.

“Then this was developed over time as the sales were going well. Traditionally the islands were the residential areas and the mainland and the crescent area for services as well as the golf and schools. After time had gone on when the islands started the marina and the golf course and its villas were expanded.”

The project is the premium residential development in the Kingdom, comprised of a dredged crescent shape pointing out to sea. The ends of the crescent feature bridges that link to five petal shaped islands to create a circle; beyond this there are six curved islands, known as ‘atolls’, that connect to the petals via bridges. The petals and the atolls feature the majority of the villas, though only three of the petals and four of the six atolls currently have buildings on them.

“The design had not been fixed since day one. It was only really the islands that were in the design at the start, then there evolved a golf course and a marina. So one development started and then it was revised.”

He added that a revision between mid 2006 and 2007 saw the new features balloon in size – including the transformation of the marina from a low-rise development to high-rise. Atkins had to push to ensure that the community facilities on the project were capable of accommodating the higher numbers of prospective residents, said Glover, adding that the budget for the project appeared at the time to have “no limitation”.

But a decline in sales and the onslaught of a wider recession has put a strangle hold on the development overall, in particular the onshore areas that include the golf course.

“At the moment the construction has slowed down a lot on the mainland and is not building, to my mind. A lot of these people their operations are dependent on who is resident.”

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