Bahrain

An artist’s impression of the new terminal coming up at Bahrain International Airport.

An artist’s impression of the new terminal coming up at Bahrain International Airport.

Infrastructure focus continues

Industrial, infrastructural and real estate development along with social housing will continue to spearhead growth in the construction sector, which eagerly awaits big-ticket infrastructural projects such as the second Bahrain-Saudi causeway and the metro.

January 2019

With landmark infrastructural and industrial projects nearing completion and some other much-awaited contracts set to be announced, 2019 is poised to be one of anticipation and new hope for the construction sector.

Work on Aluminium Bahrain’s (Alba) $3-billion expansion project is drawing to a close, with the smelter having last month produced the first hot metal at its Potline 6 expansion two weeks ahead of schedule.  With the completion of this project, Alba will become the world’s largest single-site aluminium smelter.

The country’s striking global gateway – the Bahrain International Airport –  is scheduled to start commercial operations of its new terminal later this year as part of the nation’s $1.1-billion Airport Modernisation Programme.

Also set for commissioning is the Bahrain LNG import terminal at the Khalifa Bin Salman Port with the first cargo from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) expected in the next couple of months. 

In the offing are consultancy deals for the second Bahrain-Saudi causeway, the proposed $4-billion King Hamad Causeway; and the construction contract for the North Manama Causeway Project, which will be the fourth Manama-Muharraq crossing.

Last year too was a memorable one for the country, which grabbed global headlines in April with the announcement of major shale oil finds in an offshore reservoir – Bahrain’s largest oil discovery since 1932.  While the field is expected to be ‘on production’ five years hence, it augurs well for Bahrain’s economy in the long term, which has been hit by the low oil prices over the past few years.

The GCC Development Fund, launched in 2011, has played a crucial role in bolstering the country’s economy and the latest injection of a $10-billion grant by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the UAE announced last October will go a long way in supporting Bahrain’s funding requirements as it embarks on a fiscal programme aimed at eliminating its budget deficit by 2022.

According to Fitch Solutions Macro Research’s latest infrastructure report on Bahrain, support from regional allies and firmer oil prices will see construction industry growth in real terms of 4.6 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) over 2019 – with industry value totalling $3.2 billion – despite the government’s likely reduction in capital expenditure.

Over the longer term, Fitch Solutions expects an annual average growth of six per cent between 2020 and 2028. Rising investment in residential buildings construction and population growth, which will drive power, energy and water infrastructure demand.

Tight housing stocks and a rapidly growing population is driving investment into Bahrain’s residential buildings construction sector, it says.

This apart, industrial construction, such as the Alba expansion, Bapco Modernisation programme, Bahrain LNG terminal, Banagas expansion, and the recently commissioned 115-km AB Pipeline between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have been important sources of business for the construction sector.

Another key area of focus is tourism and the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (Mice) sector. The airport modernisation programme is a key driver  in this ambition.  In addition, Bahrain is boosting the number of hotel rooms to accommodate the surge in tourism and business travellers and also intends to build a massive exhibition centre - 10 times of the size of the present one – tenders for which are expected in Q1 of 2019.  According to Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA) CEO Shaikh Khaled bin Hamoud Al Khalifa, some 22 new hotels will come up in the next three to four years.   BTEA is also developing five new beachfront projects, which will include hotels, beach sport facilities, shopping complexes etc, and plans to develop a 600-m beachfront area with five plots for private developers at Bahrain Bay. 

Going forward, Bahrain is expected to increasingly lean towards private sector support, through public-private partnerships in a bid to realise its infrastructure ambitions.

 

Airports

Work on the $1.1-billion Airport Modernisation Programme is expected to be completed by Q3 of 2019. A new terminal is currently being built, work on which is 70 per cent complete. Operational readiness trials of the new terminal are expected to begin next month (February) and will continue until September.

Also, the Civil Aviation Affairs (CAA) building, which once served as the kingdom’s main airport, will be transformed into a private aviation terminal to cater to VIPs and business leaders, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) has announced.

The state-of-the-art facility is expected to be completed by 2020, said a Bahrain News Agency report.

 

Roads & bridges

Among Bahrain’s ambitious projects is the proposed $4-billion King Hamad Causeway, a 25-km-long strategic artery linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia, which is expected to move forward with the appointment of a consultancy consortium on the project.  Bids are due to be submitted by February 21, 2019. The winning consortium will provide financial, technical and legal advice for developing a partnership framework between the public and private sectors, conduct a financial feasibility study and prepare preliminary designs for the
key link.

This transitional phase is likely to take up to three years. The new causeway, which is set to run parallel to the existing King Fahad Causeway, will carry passenger trains, freight trains and vehicles.

The project will extend 75 km in both countries, including the 25-km span of the King Hamad Causeway over the sea. The causeway, part of the proposed GCC Railway, is expected to include four lanes for vehicles and two railway tracks.

Another prominent project is the country’s first metro project, tenders for which are slated to be announced during the fourth quarter of 2019, according to a recent report in Al Ayam newspaper.

Estimated to cost between $1 billion and $2 billion, the project is likely to be built with private participation, it added.

The first phase of the light rail transit (LRT) will have 30 km of elevated track, 20 stations and carry 43,000 passengers per hour. The project is part of Bahrain’s Public Transport Masterplan 2030, which has recommended the development of 184 km of transit network comprising six lines. The LRT is to be implemented in a phased manner by 2030.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning continues to push ahead with a number of mega projects involving the construction of roads and bridges. Among them are two bridges – one linking Arad and Hidd and another linking the Muharraq jetty with Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Bridge in Hidd – which are expected to be built in the next five years.

The Arad-Hidd bridge is expected to cost more than BD12 million with funding having already been secured for the project from the Gulf Development Fund. The second bridge is reported to have been approved as a concept but is still in the early stages.

 

Housing

The government continues to focus on social and affordable housing, a sector which has recently seen private sector participation.

Due to robust government support for affordable housing, the residential building sector – which currently accounts for roughly nine per cent of value moving through Bahrain’s project pipeline – is slated to increase its share over the course of the next decade, according to Fitch Solutions.

Thousands of housing units were distributed under 17 projects across the kingdom by the end of last year. The projects are located in Lawzi, Hamad Town, Ramli, Salman Town, and East Hidd as well as in Juffair, Buhair, Khalifa Town and Tubli.

The last of the 5,000 residential units under the Ramli Housing Project are expected to be handed over to eligible citizens by mid-January. 

According to Housing Minister Bassem Al Hamer, this was the last phase in the Government Action Plan for 25,000 housing units. He also stressed the ministry’s keenness to maintain the same pace until the full royal order  of HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to build 40,000 housing units is completed.

The Northern Town, now known as Salman Town – the biggest residential town in Bahrain – was inaugurated last May. Once completed, the six-district Salman Town is expected to accommodate about 100,000 people. 

The UAE-based Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) has allocated Dh2.6 billion ($700 million) towards the project, as part of the Dh9.175 billion ($2.5 billion) UAE grant for Bahrain under the Gulf Development Fund.

Meanwhile, bids were invited last month from qualified contractors for the construction of 303 residential villas on island 14 at Salman Town. The project is being funded through the grant provided by the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) under the GCC Development Fund.

 

Power & Water

Among the key power projects being developed with the support of the private sector is the Al Dur 2 IWPP (independent water and power plant) project. A consortium led by Saudi-based Acwa Power is reported to be the lowest bidder for the project.

The mega IWPP project, which is estimated to cost around $1.5 billion, is likely to be completed by the end of 2020.

According to Minister of Electricity and Water Affairs Dr Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, the initial stage of this phase would have a generation capacity of 800 MW, expanding to a total of 1,500 MW upon completion in June 2022, and a desalination capacity of 25 million gallons per day.

Once Phase Two becomes operational, the total production capacity will hit 5,421 MW and 229 million gallons per day, representing a 38.2 per cent uplift in electricity production capacity and a 27.9 per cent increase in water production capacity.

In the wastewater sector, the Tubli Wastewater Treatment Plant is poised for yet another expansion with a consortium of three contracting companies – WTE Water Technology, Azmeel Contracting Company and Tekton Engineering and Construction – having been awarded the deal for the fourth expansion since the plant was launched in the early 1980s.

The BD138-million ($364 million) expansion project is being funded by Saudi Fund for Development and the Kuwait Fund for Economic Development under the GCC Development Fund. It will be implemented within the next three years followed by two months of operational testing.

 

Medical City

Infrastructure work has commenced on the SR1-billion ($266 million) King Abdullah Medical City following the award of a contract worth more than BD15 million to Ibn Omaira and Injaz contractors by the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry.

Bids have also been invited by the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) for the construction of the main 66-kV power station to supply the medical city. This work is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2019. Tenders are also due for the construction of water recycling stations, while the ministry is finalising designs for external roads surrounding the city.

Being funded through a SR1-billion ($267 million) grant from the late Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, it will be built on a one-million-sq-m plot donated by HM King Hamad near Khalifa City at Durrat Al Bahrain.

Arabian Gulf University (AGU) vice-president Dr Khaled Tabbara said work on the academic medical centre would be launched alongside infrastructure projects.

He added the Saudi Development Fund, which is financing the project, was yet to approve the engineering designs. However, he expects the centre to be ready within two years – and for the medical hub to start receiving patients by early 2021.

The medical city will be a multi-phased mixed-use development. The first phase will see the development of a 264-bed hospital supported by on-site staff housing and other facilities in addition to 15 operating rooms and support medical services such as advanced laboratories and a pharmacy.

Once completed, the medical city complex will boast over 500 beds besides an academic school, research facility, medical hotel, rehabilitation hospital, on-site accommodation for both students and staff.

 

Real Estate

Plans were announced late last year by Golden Gate Developers to build what are expected to be Bahrain’s tallest residential towers when completed.

Golden Gate will come up in the heart of Bahrain Bay over a 140,000-sq-m area. It will consist of two towers with 45 and 53 storeys and a total of 746 apartments, as well as luxurious amenities, facilities and services (see Page 46).

Structural work meanwhile, has been completed on the Al Tijaria residential tower, which ranks among the tallest residential buildings in the country (see Page 49).

Among other developments that have made remarkable progress is Diyar Al Muharraq, which continues to evolve and expand. A key waterfront development Marassi Al Bahrain being developed by Eagle Hills Diyar within the mega development, in particular, has made impressive strides, the latest being the award of the construction contract for Marassi Galleria, Vida Hotel and Serviced Apartments to a joint venture of Shapoorji Pallonji Mideast and Cebarco Bahrain (see Page 50).

Marassi Galleria is a 200,000-sq-m shopping and entertainment destination. It will be linked to two luxury hotels and serviced residences projects – The Address Marassi Al Bahrain and The Address Residences Marassi Al Bahrain.

The developer of Diyar Al Muharraq has launched the sale of Jeewan Villas located in the southern part of the Deerat Al Oyoun project near the entrance to the master development. The project includes 173 villas for citizens benefiting from the Mazaya social housing programme introduced by the Ministry of Housing.

Meanwhile, also off Muharraq island, work is under way on the health island Dilmunia.  A major mall – Mall of Dilmunia – as well as a number of third-party projects are currently taking shape at the development.

Among other key developers, Bahrain Real Estate Investment Company (Edamah), the real estate arm of the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat), is spearheading the development of a number of projects. Work is in full swing at Sa’ada, its premium waterfront project in Muharraq, at an investment of BD45 million ($119 million). The ambitious project is being developed in two phases, where Phase One will see a mix of residential and retail facilities completed by April. Tenders were invited last month for the provision of design and supervision consultancy services for Sa’ada East Development (Phase Two).

Edamah recently launched plans for the Bilaj Al Jazayer beachfront development on the southwest coast of Bahrain.

Also being built along this coast is a new five-star property by Al Sahel Resort Company.  This destination boasts 1.25 km of pristine coastline and its out-of-city location makes it the kingdom’s first ‘retreat’ style venue. Jumeirah Group, the global hospitality company, has already signed a hotel management agreement to operate a luxury hotel and spa within the first phase of the development.

Another major development coming up is the Bahrain Marina redevelopment, an iconic mixed-use development which will include a five-star hotel, freehold apartments and waterfront villas, shopping district, fully-integrated family entertainment and educational centre and a recreational waterfront space with food and beverage (F&B) and retail spaces, along with a yacht club.

Bahrain Marina Development Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Social Insurance Organization (SIO), has appointed Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts as Bahrain Marina’s hotel operator, which is scheduled to open by 2022. The Shangri-La Hotel at Bahrain Marina will comprise 250 hotel rooms, 150 one- to three-bedroom suites, eight beach chalets and 21 waterfront villas.

The first phase of the Bahrain Marina project, which runs on the eastern coastline of Manama, is expected to be completed by 2020.

Meanwhile, leading developer Bin Faqeeh is spearheading a string of projects throughout Bahrain including Waterbay East and Paramount Residences Bahrain, Waterbay at Bahrain Bay, Alsidra at Diyar Al Muharraq, The Treasure at Dilmunia and Layan at Durrat Marina.

 

Industrial projects

Bahrain is witnessing the completion of key industrial projects such as Alba Potline 6 expansion and Bahrain LNG (liquefied natural gas) Import Terminal. Alba, along with Bechtel, the engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) contractor, achieved a major milestone last month by successfully producing the first hot metal at the Potline 6 Expansion Project two weeks ahead of schedule (see Page 6).

Meanwhile, construction of the Bahrain LNG Import Terminal, located offshore Muharraq Island, was completed recently by Besix. 

 




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