MANAMA’S crumbling Al Fateh Corniche is set to be offered up for investment, more than seven years after its proposed development was shelved.
The decision was taken yesterday by the Capital Trustees Board during its weekly meeting, where it also formed a special committee comprising board members and government officials to assess the condition of existing facilities at the corniche.
The board also voted to close down the Dolphin Resort Bahrain located at the corniche – deeming the building old and structurally unstable, despite up to four shows a day being held there.
However, the decision does not affect the Dolphin Café and Restaurant adjacent to the building and part of the same group, with its fate left to assessment by the special committee.
Coral Bay and C Hotel Coral Bay will also remain under a new contract, but the committee will meet the owner to discuss development plans.
Work on developing the corniche, which runs along the coast near Ahmed Al Fateh Islamic Centre (Grand Mosque), was scheduled to begin in 2010.
However, a funding shortfall and the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry’s rejection of a number of tenders due to “technical reasons” left the project in limbo.
“The corniche is Manama’s most popular destination as it falls between two bustling areas Hoora and Juffair and sees hundreds of people coming to it on a daily basis,” said Mr Al Khozaie during yesterday’s meeting.
“The current crumbling state it is in doesn’t fall in line with any vision on how such a tourist and local attraction should look like, with its development way overdue.
“Development work has been regularly postponed for various reasons, but now the place will be presented to the highest bidders with immediate effect to carry out their investment projects.
“Existing facilities will be assessed and presented with conditions to remain, if they agree, then we will be very happy for them, otherwise they will be gone and replaced with something else.”
Mr Al Khozaie, who will chair the special committee, said all facilities at the corniche will undergo a strict review under the new plan, which will be considered effective if Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam Khalaf does not object to it within two weeks.
“We want to develop the place and some of the existing facilities are beyond repair like the Dolphin Resort Bahrain, which is currently holding dolphin shows on a daily basis in an old and structurally unstable building,” he said.
“That excludes the Dolphin Café and Restaurant, which has recently undergone a revamp.
“That is just one of several examples on how the special committee will address cases one by one, even the popular Funland has to present us with its plans for development in order to stay in the area.”
However, an official from Dolphin Resort Bahrain – which according to the board had its contract expire last week – told the GDN yesterday that a plan to develop the resort was presented to the Capital Trustees Authority.
“We have plans to develop the place despite it being strong and stable because we want to continue in our location with us planning to build a hotel and chalets as additional attractions,” he added.
In November 2013, then area councillor Ghazi Al Dossary described Al Fateh Corniche as “crumbling into the sea” and branded it a “safety hazard”.
In 2015, the GDN reported that Amlak, which is the real estate investment arm and wholly-owned subsidiary of the Social Insurance Organisation (SIO), was in discussions with the government to take over the corniche’s upgrade, but backed out.
Amlak is already working on a multi-million-dinar facelift of the Marina Club, located at the far end of the corniche.
The project at the Marina Club, which will span nearly 150,000sqm, is due to be completed by 2019 and will include a five-star luxury hotel, apartments, waterfront villas, a shopping mall, fully-integrated family entertainment and educational centre and a recreational waterfront space with dining and retail outlets.