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