INNOVATIVE investment ideas by university students will be pitched to local and foreign investors in Bahrain as part of a new initiative.
Researchers and graduates from private and public universities in the country have been roped in to put vacant public plots of land to use by helping plan and develop municipal projects.
It is the brainchild of Northern Municipal Council chairman Mohammed Buhamood who set up, and is the director of, the Municipal Studies and Research Centre.
The centre, located at the council’s headquarters in Malkiya, focuses on studies and researches to improve municipal planning, implementation and services.
“We have received several files from universities in Bahrain on how to put hundreds of vacant municipal and government plots to use,” said Mr Buhamood.
“It was difficult to choose as all of suggestions were excellent and amazing which, backed by proper marketing and promotion, could appeal to investors,” he told the GDN.
“The ideas have been presented to us by students aged between 20 and 22 and judging by their criteria all proposals are in line with what people want as they have been drawn up keeping in mind the needs of all age groups.
“The proposed projects include new themed malls, resorts, hotels, tourist attractions and entertainment activities and programmes that incorporate traditional Bahraini concepts.
“These suggestions can be easily updated or switfly adapted, should people’s tastes change, at a low cost without affecting the original investment; it is like each project is a multi-purpose concept that will be valid for 30 years.”
However, Mr Buhamood pointed out that accepting any of the proposed projects is not a condition for investors to pump money into development plans.
“I am not saying ideas presented by the students should be accepted; some investors may already have other projects and concepts in mind.
“But it will be much cheaper, and save time, to consider projects already researched and drawn up by the students; investors can always alter a project the way they want to.
“There are at least 1,000 plots across the country available for investment,” said Mr Buhamood adding that municipal officials have previously told him that investors take an average of five plots at least.
Even companies and individuals wishing to invest in their own property can benefit from some of the ideas with the centre whose work Mr Buhamood hopes will speed up urbanisation.
“If the aim is to have 40 per cent of the country urbanised or developed by 2030, then the centre’s proposed projects would allow development by at least an additional 20pc.
“This does not take into account further reclamation that will open up more spaces for investment.”
The centre tackles issues such as engineering, archaeology, law, factories, budgeting, recycling, land reclamation, food sustainability, as well as troubleshooting problems associated with municipal work.
It has already organised workshops in which affiliated universities sent representatives to discuss topics such as improving medical services, agriculture treatment and information technology.
Previous ideas included releasing bug-hunting fish into Bahrain’s swamps to reduce the number of mosquitos.
This involved releasing mosquitofish, whose diet includes mosquito larvae, at sites where groundwater accumulates on the surface.
Another study focused on tackling soil acidity following reports of trees dying in Janabiya, Saar and Jasra.
Set up in December 2016, the centre will be handed over to the Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Ministry in December.