Bahrain plans multibillion-dollar coast strip

27 March 2017

Masterplanned development will include beachfront hotels and residential properties

Bahrain is planning to launch a new strip of resorts and residential properties on the southwestern coast of the island as part of a new masterplanned development that will cost billions of dollars to deliver.

“I look at it like Jumeirah in Dubai,” Khalid al-Rumaihi, chief executive of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board told MEED on 26 March. “It will have hotel properties out on the beach, and behind that some residential and a road between the two. There is a whole masterplan for that.”

The strip, which is located in the Bilaj al-Jazayer area, will be anchored by two government-backed resort projects. The rest of the land will be developed by private sector investors. “We will go out to investors and developers with a masterplan and guidelines,” said Al-Rumaihi. “There is no timeline yet, but I would say early next year.”

It is likely that the plots will be sold to investors on a long term leasehold basis. It is too early estimate the cost of the development, but developing multiple beachfront resorts and residential buildings will cost billions of dollars to deliver.

The two government-backed resorts are a Fairmont operated property that is located at the north of the strip, and the Salam resort at the southern end of the strip. Both projects are moving towards starting construction in the next year. “The Fairmont is already under development and probably gets delivered in 2019 or 2020,” said Al-Rumaihi.

The Salam resort, which was previously being developed by Dubai before the 2008-09 financial crisis, has been reactivated and a tender to complete the project is expected soon. “The contractor award is at least 6-9 months away, there is going to be a tender process,” said Al-Rumaihi.

An extension to the highway that leads south to the Bahrain International Circuit will be built to enable the new development. Funding for that project was secure on 19 March when the Saudi Fund committed $500m for infrastructure projects in Bahrain.

The upgraded road link will mean that the coastal strip will be easily accessible from the causeway from Saudi Arabia that connects to the north east of Bahrain Island. “It is very close to the causeway, so today could get here in about 25 minutes,” says Al-Rumahi. “It is another outlet for people coming off the causeway.”

Last year Bahrain received more than 12 million tourists, 8 million of whom came from Saudi Arabia.

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Bahrain says that real growth in the non-oil sector accelerated in the third quarter of last year with continued expansion in a number of sectors including social and personal services, construction and financial services.

Non-oil growth reached an annual rate of 4.7 per cent in the third quarter of 2016, increasing from 3.6 per cent in the second quarter, according to the latest figures published in the Economic Development Board’s (EDB) Bahrain Economic Quarterly.

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