The seven towers will contain serviced apartments and have their own beach. Project costs are estimated at about BD 8 million ($21 million). Al-Marsa, in which Shamil Bankis the largest shareholder, is the furthest advanced of the various Amwaj developments and the first 100 units are due to be handed over to their buyers by the end of April.

The district will also house a four-storey shopping mall and consists of strips of land interspersed by canals.

Marriott will operate the 200-250-room hotel, for which Australia’s Davenportis the architect, under its Radissonbrand. Designs are being finalised and a construction tender for the BD 12 million-15 million ($32 million-40 million) project is expected in the first quarter of 2005. A letter of intent has been signed with a second operator for another four-star hotel in Fanar Beach, while Kuwait Finance House plans to develop a shopping centre in the area.

Plans at Amwaj are taking shape rapidly. On one of the two islands branching off the approach road, Egypt’s Arab Contractors Companyhas begun construction of a school to be run by a leading regional operator of private education institutions. It will have boarding facilities and will cater not only to the needs of Amwaj residents but also to other children in the kingdom. Boarding facilities will be available and about 2,000 pupils from nursery to school-leaving age will be served. A private hospital is planned on the island.

On the opposite side of the road, a masterplan has been finalised for the Theme Island, which will have at its centre a large park, and will also include a crazy golf course, a canopy challenge, an aviary and a water park among eight-10 entertainment facilities. The Theme Island will be linked to the main islands by a boulevard with a spa as the centrepiece, taking advantage of a nearby natural spring. The road linking the Manama causeway to Amwaj is due to open in mid-December and designs have been finalised for a second stretch of road completing a loop around Muharraq.

The client on the Amwaj resort is the local Ossis Property Developers, led by local businessman Saud Kanoo. Ossis is understood to be close to unveiling a development several times the size of Amwaj, also located on reclaimed land off Muharraq.