Bahrain to build 5 new cities, expand landmass by 60%

The $30 billion program includes 22 projects and man-made islands.

 Plans for the Hawar Islands area. (photo credit: Kingdom of Bahrain)
Plans for the Hawar Islands area.
(photo credit: Kingdom of Bahrain)

The government of Bahrain announced on Wednesday the launch of investment opportunities totaling more than $30 billion, as part of an integrated economic package for the post-pandemic era. 

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The 22 main projects include the construction of five new cities, artificial islands and a long list of previously announced initiatives in the infrastructure, communications, tourism, industry, education, health, housing, youth and sports sectors, while the landmass of the Gulf island kingdom will grow by 60%, according to the government. 

Bahrain will allow foreigners and foreign companies from countries around the world to invest in these vital projects, especially in the infrastructure, industry and tourism sectors, with the aim of raising the economic level of the country.

According to a previous government announcement, it aims to attract more than $3 billion in foreign direct investment over the next two years, while attracting more than 13 million visitors annually from more than 30 countries, including Israel, the United States, the European Union and Russia.

The government has launched a website affiliated with the Bahrain Economic Development Board, through which potential investors can learn about existing opportunities.

 Plans for the Al-Azm Island area. (credit: Kingdom of Bahrain) Plans for the Al-Azm Island area. (credit: Kingdom of Bahrain)

“For the first time, Bahrain is offering new islands for investment, in the so-called Fasht, which is a shallow area in the waters,” a well-informed government source revealed to The Media Line.

“The total area of these five new areas in Bahrain is 387 square kilometers [150 square miles], which is divided between residential, industrial, investment, recreational and tourist areas, while the total area of Bahrain is about 820 square kilometers,” the source continued.

“Al-Jarm Island will be the location of Bahrain’s future new airport, in addition to being a residential and touristic area. It will be an island surrounded by canals, and depend on integrated and sustainable mobility,” he said. “Al-Azm Island will be an industrial investment zone with an area of more than 100 square kilometers. Then there are the Bahrain Bay tourist area, the Hawar Islands area and Suhaila Island.

 An artist's rendition of the planned sport city. (credit: Kingdom of Bahrain) An artist's rendition of the planned sport city. (credit: Kingdom of Bahrain)

“Bahrain will also launch a sport city, the largest in the kingdom, to include the largest football stadium and other sports facilities, in addition to an integrated tourist city of about 5.7 million square meters [61.35 million square feet], and a [convention and] exhibition center that will be the largest in the Middle East,” the source said.

“A memorandum of understanding was signed between Bahrain and the United States with the aim of establishing a commercial zone with the United States of America. The commercial zone will be a regional center for trade, manufacturing, logistics and distribution, and will open broader horizons for joint cooperation and trade relations between the two countries, and enhance economic, commercial and industrial cooperation and advance trade,” the source continued.

Omar, a Bahraini economic analyst, told The Media Line, “The investment projects launched by Bahrain will change the map of the kingdom, both at the level of projects and even at the level of the geographical map of the kingdom.

“The projects are very large, and there are new cities that we see for the first time that are opened or announced. They are completely new areas, and investors can benefit from them,” he continued.

“Bahrain is heading toward economic openness, and not relying solely on oil as the main source of the state’s general budget, and it will certainly be able to do this,” Abdullah stressed.

Abdullah al-Enezi, a Saudi economic analyst, told The Media Line, “The Bahraini economy will witness a great recovery during the coming period, with the launch of this large number of projects.”

“Bahrain will also launch a system of investor visas and ‘golden residency,’ and it has many factors through which to benefit from investing in it, especially as it has the lowest labor costs of the Gulf countries, and the cost of living is also affordable,” he said.

“The people of the Gulf love Bahrain and they will certainly buy all the existing investment properties. And Bahrain is destined to open up more and allow a greater number of nationalities to enter the kingdom without the need to obtain a visa in advance,” Enezi said.

Bahraini economist Akbar Mohammed said the country has changed tremendously in the last 20 years, noting that much of this came at the level of infrastructure and the great projects that the kingdom initiated.

“Opening is coming, and investments currently amount to $30 billion and will rise to more than $40 billion over the next five years. This time there will be very strong and large investments. Bahrain has actually benefited from the corona crisis, coming out of it with a very big vision,” Mohammed said.