The work will cover electricity, water, wastewater and possibly telecoms infrastructure for the development, which is scheduled to be completed in 2008. The resort, located in the southeast corner of the kingdom’s largest island, will include a water park, a golf course, a marina, a shopping mall, an international exhibition centre, two hotels and residential units. The water park is under construction and is due to open in the second quarter of 2004. A start on the other facilities awaits the completion of reclamation work, which is being carried out by a joint venture of the US’ Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Companyand the local AA Nass Group (MEED 22:6:01).

In early August, Kuwait Finance House (KFH) acquired a 50 per cent stake in the venture from Saudi Arabia’s Dallah Albaraka Groupfor an undisclosed sum (MEED 8:8:03). The remainder is held by the government. KFH will offer financing packages to purchasers of the residential units in the resort. ‘We have recently decided to change our strategy from selling plots of land to selling ready-built homes,’ says a spokesman for the Economic Development Board (EDB), the government body overseeing the initiative. ‘These will be offered in a range of designs, including traditional Bahraini, Spanish and Mediterranean.’ The project received a boost in mid-August when the government approved a law allowing foreign ownership of land and property in certain areas, among them Durrat al-Bahrain. The resort forms part of a plan to turn Bahrain into a regional tourism hub. Other projects in the pipeline include the Hawar Islands, Amwaj Islands and Al-Jazair tourism developments (MEED 11:4:03; 10:5:02).