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Volume: XXIV, No. 1

January 2003

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Bahrain Review

Amwaj isles rise up

Less than two kilometres off the northeast coast of Muharraq, a number of artificial islands have been created which will soon accommodate a world-class mixed-use residential, commercial and resort-type community.

Some 2.79 million sq m of land have been reclaimed off the coast of Qalali village to create the islands offering about 9.5 km of beachfront.

A perspective of the development.

The estimated $1 billion (BD378 million) Amwaj Islands offer 1.5 million sq m of saleable land, broken up into 237 private seafacing plots; 481 private plots which will face a lagoon; 332 internal lots; 92 commercial plots allocated for four-storey buildings; 39 plots for eight-storey buildings; 64 plots for 12-storey buildings; 69 plots for 20-storey buildings; 40 plots for commercial and entertainment facilities; 15 hotel plots; two plots for 40-storey tower blocks and a marina.

The remainder of the property, which constitutes an area of about 1.29 million sq m, will be devoted to roads, parking, green areas and lagoons.

The project started off as a basic land development and has evolved into a real estate scheme, where plots with complete infrastructure will be sold to prospective buyers, according to Kareem Shamma, the project manager with Ossis, the developer.

The residential and leisure resort will be a self-contained community complete with all amenities and conveniences of life. The islands will incorporate shopping malls, golf and equestrian facilities, a water theme park, an amusement park, cinemas, a bowling alley, health clubs and restaurants.

The main island will house most of the facilities that the development will offer including hotels, marina, commercial facilities etc while the small islands will basically comprise private residential plots. Ossis intends the islands to offer a variety of lifestyles from boating communities to beach house living - something to suit everyone, according to Shamma.

The southeastern part of the main island has been sold to a joint venture of YBA Kanoo, Shamil Bank and Al Saraya Properties which is developing the area as a 'floating city' known as Al Marsa. This city will comprise a network of canals and tongue-shaped plots of land featuring row houses each with individual moorings for boats. These houses will also be accessible by paved roads and humpback bridges.

The commercial heart of the islands is centered around a lagoon bordered by a promenade featuring an area of shops, restaurants and cafes.

To the centre of the main island is a lagoon surrounded by a promenade overlooking which will be a commercial and entertainment area.

To the west of the main island are the hotels, a 100-berth marina and retail centre. To be known as Fanar Beach, the development will comprises two five-star hotels - one deluxe and the other standard - two four-star hotels - one targeted at the business/conference market and the other more family-oriented. The development will also include four-star chalet-type resorts.

"As the concept of the Amway Islands continues to evolve, the plans are subject to change and we are open to all ideas," Shamma points out.

One of Bahrain's existing five-star hotels has confirmed its interest in developing one of the two five-star hotels, according to him.

A causeway has been built from Qalali to provide access to the islands tying into the Muharraq ring road, work on which is expected to start early this year.

The development is expected to have an electricity demand estimated at 63 mVA which is to be provided from Hidd power station at Muharraq Island. Water demand is calculated at approximately 12,570 cu m per day.

The sewerage system will be connected to a sewage treatment plant which will be constructed just outside the main island. The drainage network will be directed to storage reservoirs and a discharge system.

Moves are under way to transform the Amwaj Islands into a "Smart City" or e-village of the future. A multi-service network will provide the integrated support for data, voice and video for private and business communication services.


Gulf House Engineering produced the architectural masterplan and provided technical back-up in preparing the drawings, models and framework engineering for the project. Buro Happold, marine and waterside consulting engineers, carried out the marine studies which covered the feasibility study for marine elements, pollution, erosion study including tidal flushing, water quality, wind and wave modelling, beach and hard shore protection design and the environmental impact assessment study.

Gredeco-Ansari Consulting Engineers carried out the hydrographic survey, finalised the the land demarcation and lot computations and also served as the consultant for the dredging and reclamation works.

The traffic impact study was carried out by Maunsell Consultancy Services and covered the proposed road network within the development as well as the roads leading to the islands.

KPMG carried out the feasibility study for the islands while TRI Hospitality Group conducted the studies for the hotels, serviced apartment buildings, malls and marina. Cluttons served as property consultants for the land valuation study and Davenport-Campbell Consultancy carried out the master planning exercises for the hotel and mall block.

Dredging and reclamation

The dredging and reclamation works were divided into two components: stage one comprised the island containment while stage two involved the dredging and mass reclamation work. Island containment work commenced in June 2001 with the use of geotextile tubes. Some 100 m long polypropylene tubes were placed along the periphery of the islands and hydraulically filled with sand.

Mass dredging and reclamation work involved 8 million cu m of sand fill to a platform level of 3.60 m Chart Datum. Boskalis Westminster started work in September 2001 and completed it last September.

Major developments are expected to be launched this month with the project entering its second phase. Infrastructure work packages are now set to be awarded. Bids have been submitted by eight local and international contractors for the works which have been divided into five packages, with tenderers having been invited to quote for one or more of the packages. Baker Wilkins & Smith is responsible for the supervision and evaluation of bids.

Project management has been divided into major scope areas such as canal walls roads, drainage and utility ductwork.

"In January, we hope to work on the canal walls using steel sheet piles. Also in January, we hope to award a contract for the offshore breakwaters which will be built to protect the islands' beaches from north/northwesterly wave action," says Shamma.

Meanwhile, on site, six model villas are nearing completion while temporary access roads around the reclaimed islands are under construction.

To demonstrate its commitment to the environment, Ossis has installed Reef Balls (tm) beyond the shores of the islands in conjunction with the Fisheries Directorate. These semi-circular shells are installed in the sea to encourage marine life and promote the breeding of fish.

According to Shamma, Ossis initially installed 10 Reef Balls (tm) which have proved to be extremely successful and has recently put up a further 40 of these structures.

The infrastructure works are earmarked for completion in early 2004, along with the marina.

Ossis offers plots of land to prospective owners to build their own villas or lots containing villas. All designs for houses, however, have to conform to the overall theme instituted by Ossis. Shamma reports that the sales of properties has been going "very well with around 50 per cent of the total saleable area already booked". Following the 2001 decree on property ownership in Bahrain allowing expatriates to own 100 per cent freehold land, many expatriates have shown interest in investing in Amwaj Islands, he adds.

14 amwaj1.jpg A perspective of the development.

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