|28 July, 2019

Bahrain's Al Jazair beach ‘will remain accessible to public’ despite private developments

The first phase, which is approximately a one kilometre unrestricted vacant beachfront, will be supported by a landscape promenade

Image used for illustrative purpose. Skyline with Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain.

Image used for illustrative purpose. Skyline with Bahrain World Trade Center in Manama, Bahrain.

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BAHRAIN’S biggest beach will remain accessible to the public despite major private developments being planned at the site, a senior official has reassured.

The Bilaj Al Jazair project in Zallaq now comes under Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company (Edamah), a subsidiary of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, set up to promote real estate development in the country.

Its chief executive Amin Al Arrayed said the seafront mixed-use tourism and recreational development currently underway would not block sea access or restrict it to the public.

The first phase of the project is expected to open in October or November.

The masterplan for the 133 hectares of area with 3km listed on Edamah’s website as a public beach features food and beverage outlets, retail shops, hospitality, entertainment, leisure enterprises and residential components.

Area MP Bader Al Dossary, who is also parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman, told the GDN there have been assurances from Edamah that developments would not bar public access to the beach.

“It is an organisational process and not a restrictive one,” said Mr Al Arrayed.

“We are looking to elevate the place after years of it being below its potential – our work is to maximise offerings from the site and not destroy it or stop people from using it.

“The place will be ready after its first phase by October-November and then people will see what additions we have made to make it a prime destination.

“Maritime sports and sea games will be chargeable because they are provided by investors – other than that we will not take a single fils for entry or use of the beach.

“The place will have better security, facilities, landscaping and more; developers are not located on the coastline, they are further away.”

The first phase, which is approximately a one kilometre unrestricted vacant beachfront, will be supported by a landscape promenade, food and beverages and supporting beach amenities.

This will be followed by work that will include a four-star hotel, branded boutique hotels and residential apartment buildings and will also include family entertainment and water sport activities.

Phase two will include the development of a commercial marina housing retail and residential components, while further south will be the Bilaj Sea Village and Resort.

“Al Jazair beach will remain open and free to the public,” said Mr Al Arrayed.

“Edamah is currently undertaking beach improvement works.

“Groynes have been constructed to stop beach erosion.

“Also, levelling and sand replacement has been undertaken to make the Al Jazair Beach a nicer and safer place for Bahraini families and international visitors to enjoy.”

Mr Al Arrayed added that in addition to the beach regeneration, upgrading of existing facilities, improved parking and enhanced landscaping will be installed.

“These works will be opened to the public in the second half of this year.

“As part of the above works, fencing and a vehicle entrance gate are being installed.”

He said this will allow the beach to be properly managed during normal operation hours and closed overnight to allow cleaning and maintenance to take place and to create an overall safer environment.

“At the same time as the opening of the above works, operators will commence offering beach services and water sport activities which will be chargeable to those wishing to avail of these services.

“Edamah has recently been working with world-class master planners and architects Fosters and Partners to advance the plans for the Bilaj Al Jazair development.

“Edamah is aiming to lodge this masterplan with the Urban Planning and Development Authority for approval in the third quarter of this year,” said Mr Al Arrayed.

“Subject to receiving all necessary approvals, Edamah is keen to commence construction of the first hotel at Bilaj Al Jazair during 2020, with completion targeted during 2022.”

Mr Al Arrayed said the beach concept was futuristic.

“Fosters and Partners together with Edamah have studied beach communities all over the world, including such places as Miami Beach, to determine how best to develop a seaside village at Bilaj Al Jazair,” he added.

“The result is that in the years to come Bilaj Al Jazair will be home to over 7,000 residents and tourists living in a vibrant 24/7 environment.

“Ultimately, the project could contain over 700,000 square metres of building floor area being hotels, apartments, villas, shops, restaurants, business and community facilities.

“Whilst the beach will remain the focus of the community, approximately 12 hectares of parks and gardens will be disbursed between buildings containing running and bike trails as well as active and passive recreational fields and features.

He added that this will create beautiful outlooks and will provide residents with easy connection to the waterfront and other community facilities

“Edamah will take the lead in constructing the first key buildings but private sector local and international developers will also be invited to play a role in the evolution of the Bilaj Al Jazair development.

“Studies are currently being conducted on how to implement “sustainable” and “smart” development initiatives to make the buildings and community in line with the world’s best practice,” Mr Al Arrayed added.

Mr Al Dossary said people were worried that Al Jezair would be off bounds for them as developers start fencing off areas and blocking access.

“There are worries as in the case of other coastal developments in Bahrain people have been asked to book a room or chalet or pay entry fees.

“The public beach should remain a public beach with not a single fils being taken.

“It is our right to seek assurances as people have concerns that they would never be allowed to swim freely and enjoy themselves like they have been doing for years.”

MP Mohammed Buhamood, a former municipal council chairman, said guarantees were necessary because many coasts were off limits at the moment.

“We were told beaches would remain open and then we turned around a few years later and the public were denied permission to enter without using the investor’s facilities,” he said.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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