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New-look $13m souq to open soon

Manama, April 13, 2009

The ‘new look’ Manama souq is expected to finish the BD5 million ($13 million) first phase of its renovation by June, according to a report.

The renovation was originally due to be completed last May.

An initial six-month delay meant the completion date was pushed back to last November, but complaints from traders in the area set it back another five months.

It was finally due to reopen this month (April), but the date has again been put back while the final touches are added.

However, the renovated government building at the heart of the Bab Al Bahrain revamp is expected to be handed over to the Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry in the next three weeks.

Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) retail sales and traditional markets committee head Jawad Al Hawaj said that all issues raised by souq traders had now been resolved.

"We had expected the facelift to be completed with the handing over, but that will have to wait a bit," he revealed.

"However, all the things required for that are in place and we shall complete it in the next 60 days."

Al Hawaj said shoppers would then be allowed into the "traditional" Bahrain shopping district.

Delays had been blamed on shop owners' objections to project designs, complaints over their relocation and issues relating to infrastructure work.

However, Al Hawaj said it was better to address those complaints than continue with an unpopular plan.

"Even if there has been a delay and traders have suffered, we are now happy that all those concerned have been satisfied," he said.

The final touch will be to add a roof to the new complex, which will be ventilated but not air-conditioned.

A major component of the project is a multi-storey car park able to accommodate up to 400 vehicles.

However, that is expected to take another year to complete as developers focus on completing the new shopping complex.

"This is coming up next to the Al Jazira Hotel and should be ready early next year," said Mr Al Hawaj.

Work on the first phase of the project began in December 2006 and centres on Bab Al Bahrain Avenue and the parallel Al Mutanabi Road.

It includes demolishing and rebuilding a government-owned commercial complex, which housed some of the oldest shops in Bahrain, and a facelift for other buildings on the avenue.

The new Al Mutanabi Road souq will include rest areas and cafes, while the old police station opposite Bab Al Bahrain will be turned into a souq museum for tourists.

Al Hawaj said existing traders would occupy most of the shops in the new development, but additional premises would be available for other businesses looking to establish themselves in the area. – TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | BCCI | Souq | Al Mutanabi |

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