Bahrain property market on upswing

An artist’s impression of Durrat Al Bahrain

A dream project to bring luxury living alongside fun and entertainment has been revived and reconceptualised to offer Bahrain’s residents and visitors what they truly desire – a resort home away from the hustle and bustle of modern living, but with all the frills of leisure and amusement.

The Durrat Al Bahrain project – which was originally initiated in late 2000 – has now been totally redesigned under its new management to the extent that the finger-shaped islands which were to accommodate plots of land are now ‘pearls’ and ‘atolls’ which will house “ready-to-move-in” homes for their owners, according to Jassim Al Jowder, deputy general manager and COO of Durrat Al Bahrain, which is spearheading the development.
The $1 billion-plus (BD378 million) residential and tourism resort will cover a 20 sq km stretch of reclaimed desert and sea – being one-third larger than downtown Manama – and aims to provide an alternative downtown area for residents living in the centre of the country, Al Jowder said.
The development will comprise a total of 13 islands: an arc of six atoll- and five ‘pearl’-shaped islands (which will be reserved solely for residential use), an island accommodating a five-star family hotel and aqua park and a Crescent which houses the downtown area of the development. The islands will be linked to each other and then onto the mainland. However, access to the residential islands is restricted to residents and their visitors only.
“The overall design resembles a necklace along the south-east shore of Bahrain at Ras Al Barr,” Al Jowder points out. It will offer 5 km of seafrontage along the mainland and 4 km along the islands – mostly on reclaimed land.
The resort will feature about 2,000 luxury sea-facing villas, 3,000 apartments, luxury hotels, restaurants, promenades, shopping centres, marina, spas, sport facilities, and an 18-hole championship golf course.
Some 1,500 of these villas will be located on the “atolls” and “pearls”, which will feature comprehensive infrastructure facilities. They will range in size from 1,500 sq m to 500 sq m and will be based on a modern design available in 12 different styles.

Work is continuing at a rapid pace on the Amwaj Islands project, a group of manmade islands less than 2 km off the coast of Muharraq which, once complete, promises to offer a combination of world-class residential neighbourhoods, commercial districts and spectacular resorts.
The $1 billion project, which will have a unifying architectural theme, smart city environment, a fast new road network, medical and educational facilities, and all the sports and entertainment amenities required in today’s hi-tech lifestyle, will usher in a new standard of living in Bahrain, said a spokesman for the developer.
The 30 million sq ft Amwaj Islands will include the following components: Al Marsa, ready-built canal-front villas; Zawaya, beautiful houses perched over the water’s edge; Gateway, spectacular apartments at the doorstep of the project; Saraya Al Bahar, designer villas on common or private beach; Tala, town-houses, villas and apartments in an exclusive gated neighbourhood setting, overlooking the tranquil Amwaj lagoon; and Meena 7, stylish apartments on the seafront in the heart of the trendy Al Marsa village. Also there’s Fanar Resort, hotel and recreational area to the west of the islands, which includes a 100-berth marina and retail centre. The islands also includes a number of developments such as the Amwaj Plaza which are being developed by private investors and Al Marsa Floating City, which includes around 215 waterfront villas/chalets and flats covering an area of 53,430 sq m.

In a significant move that will expedite the development of the $750 million Al Areen Desert Spa & Resort (Al Areen) project, and support the Government of Bahrain’s strategic drive to promote family and health tourism in the Kingdom, a consortium of development partners have been appointed for the Master Planning and Urban Design for the prestigious project. Encompassing an area of 2 million sq m, Al Areen is located in the southern part of the Kingdom on a tranquil and secluded hilltop rising from the desert.  The aim of the project is to create an authentic desert experience, which will incorporate a unique first-of-its-kind spa resort, themed residential communities, hotels, a thrilling water park, and commercial and entertainment facilities. 
The Al Areen project, which is a 25-minute drive from the city centre of Manama is comprised of four major components – a world signature spa resort, themed hotels,  residential communities, commercial and  entertainment facilities, and a world class water park. It will be strategically located within the Al Areen Wildlife Sanctuary adjacent to the Bahrain International Circuit. The spa resort, the heart of the Al Areen project, will be developed as a pioneering development in Bahrain and the region, on an area of 85,000 sq m at an investment of $50 million. It will combine the most modern spa treatments and services with the essence of ancient culture and hospitality, offering an array of therapeutic packages.
One of the prime developments of the Al Areen project will be Bahrain’s first world class water park, ‘The Lost Paradise of Dilmun’ to the northern edge of the development. The park will be designed to recreate Dilmun, Mesopotamian and Macedonian ruins, ancient artifacts and replicas of real historical sites.

A BD634 million ($1.7 billion) project to build an idyllic lake-studded resort close to an international standard horse-racing course and equestrian club is expected to break ground this year, according to a spokesman for Bahrain Wiggins, the promoter.
The Bahrain Royal Equestrian and Horse Racing Club project, which will cover a 3.7 million sq m area around the existing race course in Sakhir, will include a variety of components including a six-star hotel, a large shopping mall, 1,000 luxury villas and 1,500 apartments, all set in plush greenery.
“We have conducted extensive studies and research to ensure that the development will be unique – offering features that will be the first of their kind worldwide,” said Mahmood Ahmed, CEO of Bahrain Wiggins. The project has already received the go-ahead from the Bahrain Royal Court as well as the Ministry of Finance. Designs are currently being finalised and Ahmed expects construction work to start on site within the next 10 months with completion targeted for 2010. Work on the race track and the equestrian club is scheduled to be finished in two years, according to Ahmed.
The race course and equestrian club will be developed and managed by Wiggins on a 99-year lease from the Bahrain government. However, the villas and apartments will be freehold properties, which will be sold to citizens, GCC nationals and expatriates.