In 2002, it was brought under the remit of the Ministry of Works, then, in 2007, it was re-established as an independent ministry. Today, it is split into three major divisions with the undersecretary of housing, Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed bin Salman al-Khalifa, taking responsibility for the housing projects and services divisions. Two further undersecretaries report to him and oversee four departments:
- Housing projects planning and design directorate
- Housing projects construction and maintenance directorate
- Housing services directorate
- Housing policies and strategic planning directorate.
The other two divisions that report to the minister of housing are the land affairs group and the public relations and media department.
The ministry has a huge task on its hands. Housing is the governments biggest construction priority, with a backlog of more than 50,000 applicants waiting for the state to provide them with accommodation, as is their right according to the kingdoms constitution. Furthermore, this number is growing at 3,000-4,000 applications a year. Sources close to the ministry tell MEED that some people have been on the list for almost two decades and that restructuring within the ministry has not helped the government to tackle the issue.
The civil unrest that broke out in Bahrain in 2011 highlighted the importance of resolving the problem, with housing cited as a key source of discontent. In response, the government set out a massive public-private partnership (PPP) housing programme, along with a five-year housing plan that would see more than BD2.1bn ($5.6bn) invested in housing by the end of 2016. Unfortunately, the housing PPP did not take off as the government hoped. The $552m contract signed with local Naseej Properties in January 2012 to build 4,100 units in three locations was scaled back to 2,815 units in two locations after the scheme struggled to attract private funding. There has been some progress of late, however. In October, MEED revealed that Naseej Properties had secured a $450m loan from the local Ithmaar Bank for its PPP to move forwards. According to the Ministry of Housing, there are currently 24 housing projects under construction, which will deliver almost 4,300 homes. A further 35,000 units are in the pipeline.
Ministry of Housing
Minister of housing: Basim bin Yacob al-Hamer
Tel: (+973) 1 753 3000