Bahrain’s Housing Ministry is planning to name a preferred bidder for the development of a social housing project by the end of October, after receiving clarifications from the two bidders on the project on 3 October.

The government wants a private-sector developer to build about 3,500 social houses to help solve a shortage of cheap housing in the country.

Three bidders had been shortlisted for the project, but only two local firms submitted bids by the 12 August deadline (MEED 9:9:10).

They were the low bidder Al-Moayyed International Group with a price of BD217m ($575m), and Naseej who bid BD260m for the project.

“Bahrain wants to fast-track this process, so a preferred bidder should be named soon,” says a source close to the process.

To expect such a quick turnaround for the project, however, may be optimistic. One of the issues facing the project is securing funding. The request for proposals (RFP) did not stipulate that committed funding was required and both consortiums are understood to have only secured letters of comfort from lenders, which do not guarantee that the lenders will fund the project.

Housing is a major gripe in Bahrain, particularly for the Shia population, which complains that it is the most affected. It is among concerns that have led to riots on the streets of the country in the run-up to parliamentary elections on 23 October.