Canadian Robert Lee is a well-known figure in development circles in the region, having moved to the Middle East in 2000 to join Emaar Properties and work on the launch of Dubai Marina.
He said the Marina was the “first freehold strata-titled development” in the Middle East, which provided the spark that was to subsequently help fuel Dubai’s building boom.
Lee himself went to work on several other master-planned projects in the emirate, including Emirates Living, Dubai Festival City and, most notably, Nakheel’s Palm Jumeirah.
In January last year, he replaced Bob Vincent as the CEO of Bahrain Bay – a project being built on 450,000m2 of land that has been reclaimed from the sea just north of the island kingdom’s diplomatic area.
Political unrest has meant Bahrain’s property market has not experienced the kind of recovery enjoyed by other GCC countries yet, but CBRE recently stated rents are now showing signs of bottoming out. Lee, however, has argued that Bahrain Bay enjoys a somewhat more privileged position than other developments in the country.
The project contains 40 buildings with a gross floor area of 1.45 million m2. These will include a new headquarters for Arcapita Bank, a Four Seasons Hotel and a Raffles City hotel. In October, Wyndham Group announced that it will open a 260-room Wyndham Grand Manama hotel on the site.
“Bahrain Bay has been fortunate to be partnered with strong third party developers who have contined to progress their development initiatives in the areas of corporate offices and hospitality offerings,” he said. “Our latest addition of Wyndham Grand Bahrain is a testament to the fact that Bahrain Bay has become ‘The Address’ for business and hospitality in Bahrain.”