Deadline set for Bahrain mall contract
Manama, March 1, 2011
The management of a Bahrain shopping centre threatened with eviction has been given until Thursday to sign a new contract.
The team in charge of Marina Mall had originally been given until yesterday to agree new terms with the Manama Municipality, which owns the property.
However, Al Rashid Group - which manages the mall - has been granted an extension because of protesters camping outside at the nearby Pearl Roundabout.
The company's lease on the mall has already expired and authorities initially wanted to more than double its rent from BD35,700 a month to BD80,000.
However, Manama Municipality director-general Yousif Al Ghatam said a set of different terms had been presented to the firm - with different prices depending on the duration of the new lease.
'I can't tell anyone about the offers on the table, but they vary in period and rent and Al Rashid had been told to come by the end of the month with their preferred choice,' Al Ghatam told the GDN.
'But due to the current circumstances at the nearby Pearl Roundabout, we decided to postpone it to give the company time to focus on its business without having to rush its decision.'
The Manama Municipality and Al Rashid Group have been in negotiations over a new lease agreement for months.
Talks between the two broke down for the first time in September, but resumed the following month and officials hoped the issue would be resolved by the end of October.
Negotiations collapsed for a second time in November and Al Ghatam agreed to give mall management until the end of the year before taking legal action.
The Manama Municipal Council asked the municipality to end negotiations and take the matter to court to settle the long-running dispute in December.
However, no action was taken after Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi urged more time for talks.
'Nothing will be negotiated again and whatever Al Rashid chooses will be final,' said Al Ghatam.
'The new rates are not the BD40,000 a month asked by Al Rashid or the rate of BD80,000 asked by the council.
'All are somewhere in the middle - rates we thought were reasonable and acceptable by both parties.'
Al Ghatam previously said the mall rent should be increased because the old lease had stayed the same for so long.
Council chairman Majeed Millad Al Jazeeri has claimed other firms were interested in taking over the mall if Al Rashid Group did not agree new terms, suggesting rights to the mall should be auctioned off.
Other companies leasing municipal land have also been slapped with massive rent increases after their contracts ended, as the municipality sought to bring contracts in line with market rates.
Officials from the Al Rashid Group were unavailable for comment yesterday.-TradeArabia News Service