Tourism- and real estate-related investments are now established elements of economic growth that’s gathering momentum right across the GCC. The many major projects in the pipeline hold the promise of sustained activity for years to come, with mega-developments such as Saudi Arabia’s NEOM a testament to the region’s ambition to leapfrog the world in real estate, as indeed in other sectors.
Here in Bahrain, the real estate sector is seen as the most stable in the region, with a legislative and regulatory environment offering unprecedented ownership and opportunities to international investors. In addition, the past four years have seen a renewed focus on tourism, which now contributes nearly 10% of the Kingdom’s GDP.
That’s why we were delighted to help give both these crucial sectors a dazzling showcase this May, as investors from around the world were given a taste of the huge opportunities in the market at the inaugural Gateway Gulf, an investor forum which aimed to ‘unlock the GCC opportunity.’
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), Gateway Gulf showcased investment-ready projects worth US$18 billion, with projects in the planning phase driving up the number to $26 billion. These major ventures are centred in particular on mixed-use developments alongside new tourism hubs across the southern part of the Kingdom.
Highlights included the announcement of Al Sahel, a state-of-the-art five-star resort along 1.25km of pristine coastline on the southwest of Bahrain. Al Sahel will offer unrivalled seclusion and exclusivity with both room and villa accommodation.
Further mega-projects included the US$2billion Durrat Dawn and Durrat Crescent, which will offer hallmark residential, commercial and tourism anchors in a new resort city.
Other unique developments captured the attention and intrigue of investors and entrepreneurs alike. Diyar Al Muharraq, a project near the island of Muharraq, is envisaged as a series of interconnected, man-made islands totalling 10 sq. km, supporting homes, hotels, schools, hospitals, shopping malls and more. A similar development, Water Garden City, will be a ‘private island’, with a master plan of mixed-use development that will be ecologically, socially and commercially viable.
Further key projects announced included a new Bilaj Al Jazayer development, with a flagship Fairmont Hotel along Al Jazayer Beach; Hawar Island, another world-class eco-friendly destination; the ‘Golden Gate Towers’, a US$250 million Bahrain Bay development offering the tallest residential towers in the Kingdom; and the US$1.1 billion Hasabi development, combining residential villas, apartments, retail, restaurants and education facilitates.
But the luxury and commercial markets weren’t the only shows in town. A session with Minister of Housing H.E. Eng. Basim Bin Yacob Alhamer gave investors insights into the booming housing market in Bahrain, spearheaded by the Mazaya affordable housing project being developed in collaboration with the private sector – a prime example of public-private partnership in action for the common good.
Taken overall, the momentum of Bahrain’s hospitality and real-estate pipeline is unstoppable. With our young population continuing to grow and acquire skills for the modern economy, and with overall tourism revenues projected to reach US$1 billion by 2020, there can be no doubt that real estate will be a crucial driver of future growth and employment in the Kingdom in the years ahead.