|15 September, 2019

Call to fast-track projects in Bahrain's Southern Governorate

The projects to be fast-tracked include new exhibitions centre and the sports city

Image used for illustrative purpose. One of the last pre-cast concrete panels, is lifted onto the top of the The Breaker in Manama, May 7, 2014.

Image used for illustrative purpose. One of the last pre-cast concrete panels, is lifted onto the top of the The Breaker in Manama, May 7, 2014.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

Bahrain - A plan to fast-track new private investment projects in the south of the country has been urged by councillors.

According to the Southern Municipal Council the government has failed to attract new developments to the Southern Governorate where the main attraction is the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC) in Sakhir which opened 15 years ago.

The councillors want the authorities to come up with a 10-year plan to breathe life into the region which they claimed has only a handful of attractions.

The projects they want fast-tracked include the new BD79 million exhibitions centre and the BD165m sports city as well as expansions to the BIC and Bahrain University.

The councillors have also sought more information on projects such as the Bollywood City, allowing trekkers and campers inside Bahrain’s wildlife sanctuary Al Areen Wildlife Park, the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) Performance Centre and the Bahrain International Village.

Meanwhile, work is underway on Bilaj Al Jazair project with the first phase expected to open next month or in November.

The masterplan for the 133 hectares of development, 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.

Edamah (Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company) is the real-estate arm of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the kingdom.

It is keen to start work on the first hotel at Bilaj Al Jazair next year with a completion deadline of 2022.

“Sakhir has witnessed little development despite it being under the spotlight as the home of motorsport in the region,” said council chairman Bader Al Tamimi.

“Since April 2004 when the first F1 race was held, the place has not seen any proper development, with the exception of an indoor sky diving centre, Gravity.”

He said developers had previously shunned the area because it was remote, pointing out that since 2010 new government housing and private residential developments have come up in the area.

“We need to take action fast because over the years we have lost a number of attractions and investments such as Disneyland, Madame Tussauds, HQ Aquarium and possibly Universal Studios,” said Mr Al Tamimi.

“Things are moving very slowly – a turtle moves faster than official efforts – to really do something except for the fact of Al Jazair finally opening within the upcoming weeks.

Expansion

“There is potential for Sakhir to become ‘The Destination’ especially since there are plans to expand the circuit as it prepares to host more F1 races in the future.”

The GDN previously reported that MP and former Southern Municipal Council chairman Ahmed Al Ansari said a new authority could be set up to handle future investment proposals, projects and developments.

He claimed scattered efforts between Bahrain’s ministries and government bodies were slowing up the process and shooing away investors.

He pointed out that there are 200 empty government plots in the Southern Governorate but bureaucratic procedures were putting hurdles on attracting international franchises.

mohammed@gdn.com.bh

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