Bahrain to Focus on Housing 
and Infrastructure Projects

MANAMA — The drop in oil prices will affect the growth rate in Bahrain but would not bring it to standstill, therefore turning the government’s focus on important infrastructure and housing projects, a senior government official has said. The Minister of the Premier’s Court Shaikh Khalid bin Abdullah Al Khalifa told the press in the three-day Bahrain International Property Exhibition 2008 (BIPEX) that concluded on Saturday that the government had been launching many initiatives to diverse its financial resources and becoming less dependent on oil revenues. He said that BIPEX was one of many initiatives to enhance property sector and attract foreign investments. “Bahrain urban development, paralleled with an economic boom, has achieved its set up goals through the implementation of various plans,” he said. The event was the fifth real estate and property exhibition and a continuation of previous ones. Shaikh Khalid pointed out that such quality exhibitions are a genuine expression of distinctive thought blending science with work. New housing projects are mushrooming all over the country from which thousands of Bahraini families have benefited Shaikh Khalid said, pointing out to the speech of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa before the national assembly in which he pledged every support to such projects. One of the main objectives of BIPEX was to provide the opportunity for developers and real estate agencies to measure the volume of demand and cater to buyers needs through provision of information about key issues such as funding, legal rules, tax systems, investment revenues, re-selling conditions and tax transfer on inherited real estate properties. During the last day of BIPEX, seminars on properties were held that tackled the shortage and high prices of building materials and how it affected the progress of some properties projects in Bahrain. Richard Browning, Chief Executive Officer of Riffa Views, confirmed to the Khaleej Times that the building materials problems had their effects on Riffa Views by delaying the handing over of properties to their owners by six months. He said that such a shortcoming was not a major problem and would not affect the trustworthy position and revenues of the company as buyers would be amused of the new to them concept of greenery surrounding in the heart of the desert. “We were keen to submit the houses all together to protect the main theme of Riffa View as a green heaven in the heart of the desert, while if we hand over completed homes then they new owners have to live through the inconvenient of being around construction operations,” he said. One of the seminars highlighted that the building materials problems have been eliminated through steps taken last summer by the government, including the cabinet decision to instruct government organisations to import their need of materials from aboard and allocate the existence supply to companies. In mid-October, the Minister of Industry and Commerce Dr Hassan Fakhro received traders of building materials to discuss the issue. Dr Fakhro stressed government’s keenness to ensure that adequate quantities of building materials are reaching the market from various sources in addition to its efforts to facilitate the distribution of the materials to companies operating in the construction sector. In this regard, he pointed out the importance of cooperation with the government. Dr Fakhro stressed the importance of holding such meetings to discuss the latest developments in the sector and to ensure the availability of cement and steel that are high in demand now. He added that it is important to make all efforts to provide basic materials to meet market needs and to avoid any scarcity that might happen especially as the Kingdom is witnessing urban real estate development. Building materials’ traders praised the minister and the ministry for their efforts in resolving various obstacles that the sector is facing. Suad Hamada