Bahrain seeks international partners for housing projects

06 June 2016

Letters have been sent to interested parties by government-owned bank

Bahrain’s government-owned Eskan Bank has sent letters to international developers inviting them to form joint ventures (JVs) to develop 15,000-16,000 housing units in the country.

Housing minister and Eskan Bank chairman Basim bin Yacob al-Hamer told MEED in an interview on 31 May that letters have been sent to interested parties from the GCC, China, South Korea and Turkey.

Al-Hamer says the response from investors has been encouraging. “We have received very positive signs that they wish to participate in future projects,” he said.

The JV agreements will involve the government providing land as equity, with the developer and financiers funding the construction of the scheme. Eskan Bank will manage the project to ensure the housing units are sold correctly and transferred to the beneficiaries.

According to Al-Hamer, the JVs will develop government land in Ramli and Al-Madina al-Shamaliya, as well as redevelop areas built in the 1980s in Muharraq, Umm al-Hassam and Isa Town. The areas earmarked for redevelopment currently have 1,200 units. Eskan Bank plans for them to have more than 4,000 units once they are redeveloped.

Eskan Bank was formed in 1975. It began collecting installments from Bahrainis living in government housing developments. Since then it has evolved to become a bank and developer with its own land bank, which it is developing for Bahrainis that are on the national housing list. It is currently building housing units in various locations across the country, including Riffa, Isa Town and Seef.

Eskan Bank’s activities are in addition to the housing ministry’s target of completing 25,000 homes by 2019, and its wider target of delivering 40,000 units within eight-10 years.

Many schemes under the housing ministry have received GCC funding, but with such financing likely to decrease, Al-Hamer said the authority is already exploring different financial models to fund the housing pledge.

The ministry had previously developed a major scheme under a public-private partnership (PPP) model.

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