Work starts next month on a massive residential, business and shopping development on the Manama waterfront. The $1.5 billion (BD565.5 million) Bahrain Bay project will include the country's first Four Seasons Hotel as its centrepiece.
It is being created by Bahrain Bay Development, a joint venture between Arcapita Bank B.S.C.(c) (Arcapita) and a Bahrain-based investment group.
The project will include commercial, residential and retail properties, including Arcapita's new global headquarters. The project will be built in three phases.
Phase One will involve a 430,000 square metre land reclamation and infrastructure development, to start next month.
Phase Two will involve the construction of the two anchor developments, the Four Seasons hotel and the new global headquarters building for Arcapita and is scheduled for completion in early 2008.
Phase Three will involve the development of residential, retail and commercial sub-projects At final completion, expected in December 2010, the total built area will be over 1.1m square metres.
Master plans as well as architectural and design standards for the development have been completed by architecture and urban design firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
"Just five months from the initial announcement of this project, the preparatory stages for design and planning considerations have progressed very well and Bahrain Bay BSC is able to launch Bahrain Bay ahead of schedule," said Arcapita chief executive officer Atif Abdulmalik.
"A month from now, site work will commence on what we believe will be an outstanding addition to the Kingdom of Bahrain, as befits its place as a regional centre for banking and finance.
"With its futuristic, urban designs, Bahrain Bay will be a stunningly presented collection of waterfront residential, retail and commercial developments, representing a unique new focal point in Bahrain."
The Four Seasons hotel is expected to be the tallest building in Bahrain.
Plans include 220 rooms, conference facilities and a private beach, all specified to the high standards of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
The Arcapita headquarters will be a further landmark within the development, providing over 18,000 sq m of office space.
"There are many aspects that make Bahrain Bay a particularly attractive opportunity" said Mr Abdulmalik.
"The demographic changes within Bahrain, its proximity to the rapidly growing Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia and the location within Manama's prime northern corridor, make this a compelling project.
"Added to these, the early commitment of the highly regarded Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, the innovative architectural design and the experience and track record of each of the companies involved in the development are among the many other components that make this a unique proposition."
Additional support for the execution phase of the development will be provided by Turner Construction International and Atkins International, both of whom have considerable experience of premium, high-profile development projects, in the Gulf region and all around the world.
The reaction to the planned development has been very positive.
"The project team has taken soundings from the marketplace throughout the planning stage" said Mr Abdulmalik.
"Response from every quarter has been excellent, and Bahrain Bay BSC is already in discussions with several interested parties to participate as developers of the other sub-projects of Bahrain Bay."