Building a better Bahrain

A plethora of projects is under way or in the pipeline in Bahrain. Hugo Berger monitors their progress.

ANALYSIS, Projects
Health Island
Health Island
The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge
The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge
The Bahrain World Trade Center
The Bahrain World Trade Center
Durrat Al Bahrain
Durrat Al Bahrain
Bahrain Bay
Bahrain Bay
Reef Island
Reef Island
Marina West
Marina West

A plethora of projects is under way or in the pipeline in Bahrain. Hugo Berger monitors their progress.

Few countries have benefited from the strengthening political confidence and increased commercial activity in the Gulf more than Bahrain.

Ever since the Lebanese Civil War drove out Beirut's large banking sector, the archipelago has enjoyed a reputation as a strong financial centre. And buoyed by strong communication and transport facilities, numerous multinationals have set up in Bahrain.

The Kingdom is now well on its way to becoming a major tourism and financial hub in the GCC.

A number of mega-projects are under-construction or in the pipeline that will transform the small country over the next few years.

The government has also launched new port projects along with power stations and desalination plants.

Hugo Berger profiles the projects that are going to change Bahrain's landscape.

Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH), Manama

The US $1.3 billion scheme is being built on 380,000m2 of reclaimed land and aims to be the country's financial hub.

BFH is made up of 10 projects: Financial Centre, Commercial West, Commercial East, Harbour Row, Hotel, Residential South, Diamond Tower, residential North, Bahrain Performance Centre and Dhow Harbour.

Outside of the capital, the Al Areen project is turning an arid desert into a huge residential, healthcare and entertainment complex.

The Banyan Tree Desert Spa and Resort opened its doors in 2007, and is already being heralded as one of the Middle East's most luxurious locations.

The scheme also includes the Middle East's biggest water park, The Lost Paradise of Dilmim, Hotel Al Areen, Al Waha Resort, Oryx Hills, Downtown Al Areen, Sarab Al Areen and other residential, recreation and retail facilities.

The development is scheduled for completion next year.

Health Island, Muharraq

This is the first island, not only in Bahrain but in the Gulf, devoted - as its name suggests - to healthcare.

The US $1.6 billion island, which will cover 1.25 million m2, is being developed by the Ithmaar Development Company.

Facilities are said to include centres for diagnostics, aesthetic surgery, alternative medicine, nutrition and diabetes in addition to deluxe spas, boutique hotels and luxury residences.

The aim of the project is to make Bahrain the regional hub for health tourism while simultaneously providing first class health care for the Kingdom's residents.

Construction is anticipated to take between three to five years.

Riffa Views, Riffa

The new community will feature 900 homes built around a PGA Championship golf course, designed by Scottish golfer Colin Montgomerie.

The residential development will include three neighbourhood zones, waterways and lagoons, and all homes will have arresting, open views of the verdant golf fairways.

The development is progressing on target and is due for completion by mid-2009.

Riffa Views is the result of investment by Bahrain-based bank Arcapita, the developer behind Victory heights in Dubai Sports City and a new residential and commercial waterfront in Bahrain.

The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge, Askar

Historically Bahrain has had a tense relationship with its neighbour Qatar.

Now, they have put their differences aside with plans to build the 45km bridge linking the two nations.

The idea was first mooted in 2001, when the two countries were involved in a dispute over the ownership of the Hawar Islands off the coast of Qatar.

In September 2001, Denmark-based Cowi signed a US $11.3 million contract with Qatar's Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture for the project's preliminary engineering and environmental investigations.

The causeway will link Ras Ashairij in north Qatar with a site in the north Askar region of Bahrain; the exact path of the link has been chosen to minimise the impact on both countries' environments.

The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge is expected to be the longest fixed link across water in the world.

The bridge aims to benefit both countries by not only allowing cars and road freight to travel freely between them, but also becoming a symbol of the new spirit of partnership.

The Bahrain World Trade Center, Manama

The building looks set to become the symbol of the country's construction boom.

Its two towers are each 240-metres high, with 50 floor in each.

It is the first skyscraper in the world to integrate wind turbines, with three 29m turbines built on bridges between the towers.

BWTC comprises of residential areas, a five-star hotel, a high end shopping centre called Mooda Mall and sophisticated office space.

The project has received several awards for sustainability, including the 2006 LEAF Awards for ‘Best Use of Technology within a Large Scheme' and the Arab Construction World ‘Sustainable Design Award'.

It was designed by Atkins and the main contractors are Ramboll, Norwin and Elsam Engineering.

It is due for completion later this year.

Durrat Al Bahrain, Southern Bahrain

Durrat Al Bahrain is the country's largest residential project.

The US $2.9 billion scheme is taking up 20km2 of land reclaimed from the desert and sea.

Designed to resemble a necklace, the Durrat development will consist of 13 different islands; five pearl-shaped islands, an arc of six atolls, a crescent-shaped island that will house a residential complex and last but not least, an island that will revolve around a five-star resort and aqua park.

When finished, people can enjoy a golf course, luxurious shopping centres, excellent restaurants, promenades and a planned marina.

The project takes its name from the Arabic word for Pearl.

Durrat Al Bahrain is owned by the Durrat Khaleej Al Bahrain Company, in which the Government of Bahrain and Kuwait Finance House - Bahrain each hold a 50% stake.

The master planner/architect of the project is Atkins; the project/development manager is KMC Bovis, while a joint venture between the Kuwaiti Manager Company, Bovis Lend Lease and HAJ is the quantity surveyor.

Bahrain Bay, Manama

The landmark US$2.5billion waterfront development encompasses an area of 1.1 million m2.

Bahrain Bay is designed around vibrant neighbourhoods of residential, commercial and retail spaces.

The community is the brain child of Arcapita, a Bahrain-based international bank focused on corporate, real estate and asset-based investments.

Arcapita has chosen this carefully-conceived waterfront neighbourhood as the site of its new corporate headquarters, while in another coup, the Kingdom's first Four Seasons Hotel will open its doors here.

In February, infrastructure group AMA won a $58 million contract for the construction of the development's key infrastructure elements, including its road networks, water network, sewage, storm drainage and irrigation water networks, as well as its telecommunications installation system and bridge network.

"Bahrain Bay will set a new standard for urban living in the region by creating a modern metropolis that will become the driving force for the re-development of Manama's city waterfront," said Bob Vincent, CEO of Bahrain Bay.

"Bahrain Bay will be a genuine community filled with residents, businesses and visitors, living in and surrounded by stunning, contemporary architecture.

The tentative completion date for Bahrain Bay is 2010, although industry insiders suspect that the project may be delayed for several years.

Seef District, Bahrain City Centre

Seef District, Bahrain City Centre will stretch over three levels to occupy a total GLA area of 150,000m2. It will also incorporate two international hotels managed by Kempinski, with a total of 550 luxurious rooms offering four and five star facilities.

Bahrain City Centre has already created over 2,000 job opportunities and aims to attract over 15 million shoppers in its first operational year. The Kingdom's biggest multi-use development is expected to contribute significantly to the local economy.

Bahrain City Centre is being developed and managed by MAF Shopping Malls.

Maintaining the group's unsurpassed reputation of delivering the best in shopping, leisure, entertainment and retail services, Bahrain City Centre will offer an impressive list of attractions that include: the biggest indoor/outdoor climate controlled water park in the Middle East; Cineco Cinema - the largest cinema complex in the region with 20 screens; a 16,600m2 Carrefour hypermarket - the first in the country; a retail area that will extend over 9,700m2 and parking capacity for 5,500 vehicles.

Reef Island , Manama

Built on the man-made island, Reef Island will feature 39 residential buildings, housing a total of 1,217 apartments, 67 individual villas and 49 beach chalets, all of which will overlook private lagoons.

When completed, Reef will also have its own private marina, shopping mall, spa village, aquarium, dedicated medical centre and five-star 300- room hotel.

It is being developed by Lulu Tourism Company at a cost of US $1.3 billion.

The first phase of construction started in July last year, with Al Hamad Contracting Company being appointed as main contractor, while tenders for the second phase are expected to be issued in mid-2008.

Bahraini-Malaysian construction company, Al Hafeera IJM Contracting, recently won the $14.2 million contract to build the access bridge to Reef Island.

Design and masterplanning firm, Pentago Spowers International, has designed the project, completion of which is expected in 2010.

Marina West, west coast of Bahrain

Under development by AAJ Holdings Company, the project aims to be Bahrain's first gated beachfront residential and lifestyle community. Spread over 350,000m2, the 11 towers will house luxury apartments.

A huge space will be given over to lifestyle and leisure pursuits, including a 130m long stretch of private beach, health club and spa, dining area, supermarket, marina and more.

It is due to be finished by December 2009.

Al Hamad Construction & Development won the main construction package for the development last year.

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