DUBAI: Retail and food and beverage developments remain popular investment choices in Bahrain as developers take advantage of the rising tourism and leisure sectors in the Gulf country.
Bahrain has been upgrading infrastructure and creating new tourist attractions to entice more visitors, as the island states aims to raise the sector’s contribution to the aggregate non-oil economy to 7 percent this year, from 6.3 percent in 2016.
“Experiential and entertainment focused retail concepts are beginning to influence shopping center designs,” consultancy CBRE said in its latest review of Bahrain’s property market.
Bahrain early this year held Shop Bahrain, a month-long retail-and-tourism festival, which attracted 130,000 shoppers mostly from the neighboring Gulf states Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and Kuwait.
Sales reached more than 8 million Bahraini dinars (SR79.8 million) during the event.
A number of government and private projects to underpin Bahrain’s push for tourism, and festival and waterfront and neighborhood projects are opening or currently under construction, CBRE said in its report.
The 272,000-square-meter The Avenues – Bahrain’s first combined commercial and entertainment mall — is set to open in a seafront location late this year.
The mall’s design boasts of roof made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene — a fluorine-based plastic designed to have high corrosion resistance and strength over a wide temperature range — which will give “visitors an outdoor feeling while remaining indoors.”
The Oasis, a large regional shopping center, is also opening next year.
Retail and leisure are seen as the main drivers of tourism for Bahrain and global retailers “continue to work with the local market to evolve the offering,” CBRE said.
On the government side, Bahrain is investing $1 billion to modernize the Manama international airport, which will include the construction of a new passenger terminal building to accommodate the expected rise in visitor arrivals.
Bahrain is also planning to open a second causeway — the King Hamad Causeway — to Saudi Arabia, which will include a rail link. There is also a plan to expand the existing King Fahd Causeway, where a majority of the country’s 12.3 million visitors came through last year.