Bahrain Bay Development deputy CEO tells Building why the kingdom is the place to be

As firms including Aecom continue to move directors out to offices in the Middle East, Bahrain has increasingly become a recurring name on the list. One of the men behind Bahrain Bay, a $2.5bn scheme in the country, set to become a new city built on a man made island, talks about the next phase of the project and opportunities for UK construction.

The Bahrain Bay Development has reached the third stage now. Could you tell me a bit more about that?

Phase one focused on building directly onto half a million square metres of sea bed, as this is a man made island, then building the quay walls around it to protect everything. Phase 2 was installing infrastructure - electricity, water, sewage works - basically all services and utilities. And the third phase is development.

This means there are many options for consultants and contractors. Mace is our project manager for the whole development and Atkins is the project engineer, so we already have strong relationships with UK firms. We don’t have enough expertise in the Bahrain market so we will require experience from international firms. We have more than 40 plots to be developed on this project and the value of work available is currently over $1bn.

What sort of work is available?

This is a mixed-use development so everything from hotels - we have attracted the Four Seasons  - through to banks, commercial projects, residential schemes. It’s 55% residential and 45% commercial, retail and hospitality.

What are the benefits of woking in Bahrain compared to say, Dubai or Qatar?

The culture, history and heritage of Bahrain are different, which attracts Western business. For many people this is one of the top holiday destinations in the Middle East and actually, Bahrain comes second after Egypt.

Interestingly, some research I saw recently showed that it is the third most popular retirement destination for people in the UK. We are connected to one of the largest economies in the world - Saudi Arabia - thanks to the causeway connecting the two countries and investment here from banks is increasing very quickly.

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