$50m park project stalled
Manama, June 8, 2009
Work on a new BD19 million ($50.4 million) state-of-the-art theme park in Muharraq, described as a miniature Disneyland, has been stopped before it has even started.
The Muharraq Municipality is now seeking the Muharraq Municipal Council's approval to withdraw the project, alleging breach of contract by the investor.
Municipal officials say Kuwaiti company Salah Al Rumaih Group is four months late in starting work and has changed the designs originally presented.
Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa patronised the project's foundation-laying ceremony marking the start of the building phase on January 14.
Councillors agreed yesterday to suspend the contract, but want to give the investor a chance to explain the situation before going any further.
If the investor fails to convince councillors that there are valid reasons for the alleged delay and change in design, then the council could terminate the contract, take legal action and open tenders again for investors.
According to the original plans, the project would feature a variety of games, green spaces and the country's longest walkway, at 1,550 metres, using asphalt that is good for joggers.
Designs also included the biggest bowling alley in the Middle East, with 45 lanes and which would be equipped to host international championships.
Other facilities included a women's health club, medical centre, restaurants and coffee shops, hotel with a multi-purpose hall and a three-storey car park, with a hydraulic elevator for vehicles.
Plans also included a miniature train to transport guests around the park and around 14 buses will be brought from the UK to take visitors coming via King Fahad Causeway from Saudi.
The park would also have its own ambulance and helicopter on standby in case of emergencies, under the original plans.
'This is a setback to our plans for the park, but I don't want to take an action that we may regret in future,' said council chairman Mohammed Hammada, who is also the area's councillor.
'Sitting with the investor would certainly enlighten us to the reasons behind the delay and why original designs have been changed.
'It is unacceptable to penalise someone, especially if the matter involves millions of dinars, without really listening to his case.
'The situation is upsetting, considering that we have promised people that the park would be open by the end of next year and have given the project a huge media boost.
'Hopefully we will have things done in the timeframe we have set and according to the designs shown to the Premier.'
The development, which is supposed to be built on an area of land known as the Grand Muharraq Garden, would cover an area of 93,618 sq mt and was originally set to provide 200 jobs.
The Salah Al Rumaih Group won the council's backing for the contract in 2007. – TradeArabia News Service