Unrest hits $530m market revamp in Bahrain
Manama, October 22, 2011
Businessmen are too worried to invest in a proposed BD200 million ($530.5 million) revamp of the Manama Central Market due to the unrest, according to a top official.
The Manama Municipal Council has failed to attract interest in the area, which was once a major hub.
Council vice-chairman Mohammed Mansoor said the location was not desirable anymore, which was making it difficult to promote it for investors.
The area surrounding the market, located near the now demolished GCC (Pearl) Roundabout, is currently off limits and secured by members of the National Guard and police.
People can still visit the existing market via other routes, but not through the renamed Al Farook junction.
Tashgeel for Commercial Buildings Management has been awarded the contract to supervise the project through its various phases.
It will be responsible for determining the best way to handle investment, marketing the project, coming up with criteria for investors, helping select the best bidders and supervising designs.
The state-of-the-art attraction is expected to be up and running within six years - after 36 months of delays.
The revamp was first announced in January 2008, but was sidelined due to the global financial crisis and problems reaching agreement on the best way forward.
"I don't know how the market will be made attractive for businessmen to invest in if current businesses in the place are struggling to survive," said Mr Mansoor.
"The place is closed down by special forces from the National Guard and Interior Ministry and there are regular attempts to trespass by groups of youths, which also make it an unstable location.
"It has also been a long time since any business activity, February was the last month as I recall when the unrest began and people have since found other places to buy their goods from."
The project includes a new central market, which will be named the Capital Trade Centre, officials announced during a re-launch in August.
The development is set to include business, residential, shopping and leisure spaces. Four 28-storey office and shopping towers, a new central market, car parking facilities, a five-star hotel, heritage village and a park are also part of the plans.
Mr Mansoor said the area would need a miracle to bring back shoppers and investors.
"I don't want to be pessimistic, but the current circumstances are not that encouraging," he said.
"Everyone in the council wants it to succeed considering that it would generate huge revenues for the Manama Municipality, which could be used to fund vital projects.
"But there are no real solutions to have the location attractive again and we want an urgent meeting between all those concerned to come up with plans on how to make it attractive or else the project should be scrapped altogether." – TradeArabia News Service