Bahrain is planning $32bn worth of projects in the coming years as the authorities look at ways to boost economic activity in the kingdom, according to Bahrain News Agency report.

Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman al-Khalifa made the announcement as he laid the foundation stone for the $1.1bn project to expand the Bahrain International Airport.

The prime minister added that projects will be focused on infrastructure in a bid to create job opportunities for the local population.

“We face economic challenges by launching more development projects that revitalise the national economy and reflect positively on our potentials to spur growth and diversify revenue sources,” said Al-Khalifa.

Bahrain’s economy has been struggling amid declining oil prices and a slowdown in the region’s economy. US ratings agency Standard and Poor’s recently lowered Bahrain’s long- and short-term ratings to ‘BB/B’ from ‘BBB-/A-3’. “Since 2014, when oil prices started to slide, pressure on revenues has become particularly acute in Bahrain; and we think the impact of this lasting trend will exacerbate existing structural frailty in Bahrain’s public finances, despite an active response from authorities,” says S&P.