Opportunities for private sector investment across Bahrain’s vibrant hospitality, retail and real estate sectors were showcased yesterday at Gateway Gulf which is being held under the patronage of His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and Chairman of the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) to explore ways of unlocking the opportunities being created in the region.
Major regional investment-ready projects worth US$18 billion, with projects in the planning phase driving up the value of the project pipeline to US$26 billion were announced throughout the day, with a particular focus on mixed-use developments and new tourism hubs across the southern part of the Kingdom.
Under the umbrella of the Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company (Mumtalakat) numerous new resorts in south of the Kingdom revealed huge potential for growth to investors at the forum, in line with efforts to develop the tourism sector. One unique developments showcased included Hawar Island, a world-class eco-friendly destination, Phase One of which will commence in the coming months.
This will include the construction of a 350 key five-star lagoon resort and 150 eco-friendly apartments and villas. Stage two will involve the renovation of an 100-year old Hawar mosque, the development of a bird research centre, a hotel and heritage souq, 155 residential villas and a wellness resort and spa. Construction work stated in 2017, with the lagoon resort opening in 2019. The second phase of the development will be complete by the end of 2021.
The development also includes a revamp of the existing Hawar resort, which will offer new water sports activities, entertainment and restaurant facilities. The resort is scheduled to open its doors in July 2016.
“The tourism industry represents approximately 10% of the world’s GDP, a priority sector for Mumtalakat as the sovereign wealth fund of Bahrain,” explained Mahmood H Alkooheji, CEO of Mumtalakat. “We take great pride in the showcasing of several of our key projects in Bahrain here today. Worth over US$2 billion, these real estate projects in the south of the island will enhance our tourism profile as a coveted destination.”
Housing and mixed-use investment opportunities were also a key theme at the first day of the investor forum. Demand for housing is expected to continue to exceed supply in the coming years thanks to the Kingdom’s young and fast-growing population: driving particularly strong demand for apartments which have gained momentum in sales price over recent years.
The Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), established in 2017, is committed to supporting growth across the real estate sector by strengthening regulation, attracting world-class investors and ensuring consumer confidence and protection. This directly supports the plethora of projects being showcased during Gateway Gulf, and highlights Bahrain’s commitment to strengthening regulatory frameworks across all sectors to encourage investment.
Housing projects showcased at the event ranging from social housing opportunities to innovative schemes in collaboration with the private sector for the provision of affordable housing (Mazaya), which helped to enhance the purchasing power of citizens since its launch in October 2013. Statistics show that more than 2,650 citizens have purchased their housing units over the last four years thanks to the funding solutions provided by this program. A total of BHD 15 million has been provided in support of Mazaya beneficiaries in cooperation with the banks participating in the program. Real estate developers have also sought to offer housing at affordable rates for beneficiaries, through affordable finance. The growing success of Mazaya programme was apparent at the forum.