$545m Bahrain resort project hit by crisis
Manama, July 19, 2009
The fate of a massive project on Bahrain's southwest coast is hanging in the balance, with bills worth millions of dinars allegedly unpaid and work at a standstill for the past six months, a report said.
Construction of the $545 million Salam Bahrain Beach Resort and Spa was halted in January, but 'hundreds' of companies are allegedly still awaiting payment, said a report in the Gulf Daily News, our sister newspaper.
The project ground to a halt after almost a year when developer Sama Dubai allegedly pulled the plug on a contract it signed with Bahrain-based Nass Corporation and its joint venture partner Murray & Roberts.
It was supposed to be completed any time now, but sources close to the project - which was reportedly earmarked as a venue for GCC leaders' meetings - confirmed it has been at a standstill since the start of the year.
'The project, in Zallaq, was intended to be a beach resort, but very little has been done on it ever since it was launched more than a year ago,' said sources.
'In fact, whatever there was that had been built is now literally crumbling.'
It is understood the Nass, Murray & Roberts joint venture is now securing any construction already taken place to prevent it from falling into a state of disrepair.
The company has declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement with Sama Dubai.
However, officials at two other companies which signed up to work on the project claimed the developer owed as much as BD20 million.
'They have been talking about release of payments, but nothing has been done yet,' said one official on condition of anonymity.
'Hundreds of subcontractors are owed money by Nass, Murray & Roberts - the main contractor.
'They (Nass, Murray & Roberts) in turn have not been paid since last November and the project has been halted since the end of January.
'We have not been paid for three months.
'Salam work started at the beginning of last year and lasted one year. People were paid for 10 months.'
Salam Bahrain's official website states the project was scheduled for completion by the middle of this year.
It is supposed to resemble an Arabian citadel and described as a 'magnificent tribute to the history and culture of the region'.
The resort is supposed to consist of a luxury beach hotel, restaurants, spa and wellness centre, fitness centre, hotel villas, freehold apartments, a 'vibrant' suq, a 20,000-square foot conference hall and tranquil waterways located alongside an 'enchanting harbour'.
The entire development is billed as a '500,000sqm bastion of opulence and luxury', while views from the 228-room hotel are promised to be 'as stunning as its palatial spaces and opulent interiors'.
By night it is supposed to be a place where the 'young and trendy, the fashion-conscious and the rich and famous will come out to meet, dine or simply unwind'.
However, the project is currently a building site where sources involved in the development said only concreting work had been completed.
They added they were hoping for positive developments after Ramadan.
'We have been hearing for a while that we could soon be back at the site, but we still have to hear anything concrete.'
Another source close to the project, who also asked to remain anonymous, blamed 'economics' for bringing the project to a halt.
'The economics of it did not work.
'There were also rumours that there were some big problems with the design and that was why they stopped, so they could re-do it.'
They added the project was cancelled so quickly that cranes and other building materials were left on site.
'It affected a lot of people.