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Environmental issues and challenges related to artificial islands and greenbelt rezoning

Desertification resulting from the degradation of limited arable land.

Arable land (hectares) in Bahrain was measured at 1600 Hectares in 2011, according to the World Bank and 1600 in 2015.

Periods of drought, and dust storms; coastal degradation (damage to coastlines, coral reefs, and sea vegetation) resulting from oil spills and other discharges from large tankers, oil refineries, and distribution stations, coastal industries.

Lack of freshwater resources (groundwater and seawater are the only sources for all water needs)

In 1990 the surface area of Bahrain was 665.3 km2. "By the end of 2015, it was recorded at 778 Km2.(search area) This is an increase of 112.3 km2 in 35 years." And still reclamation is going on.

"This 15.8% expansion is due to sea reclamation, mainly for housing and industrial developments."

The number of islands that make up Bahrain's archipelago as of the end of 2019 were about 100 islands 33 natural and 67 artificial and still more areas are dredged and filled in as we speak, some illegally like in Tubli Bay.

Amwaj 9, Bahrain Bay 7, Diyar Al Muharraq 7, Durrat al Bahrain 17,

Halat Nuaim- seltah 1, Northern City, 14, Nurana 2, Prince Khalifa bin Salman Island 1, Bahrain Bay 7, Reef Island 1, Sitra 1

Environment<%2Fspan>" target="_blank">Environment - international agreements party to:

Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands Geographical Information System (GIS) for Environmental Monitoring.

Environment protection decrees and decisions

UNDP Country Program

Supreme council for the Environment

To Contact the Commission:

The current population of Bahrain is 1,721,133 as of Wednesday, November 4, 2020, based on Worldometer elaboration of the latest United Nations data.

Bahrain is very densely populated with 2239 per Km2 (2020), which ranks 7th in the world. Bahrain is the 4th most densely populated sovereign state on earth.

The only sovereign states that have a greater density are city states. The northern region of Bahrain is so densely populated and urbanized that it is often considered a single massive metro area.

Artificial Islands and housing projects

Damage to the shoreline, beaches and marine environment is mainly due to reclaiming the reefs and sea for freehold housing projects, worth billions of investors dollars, these projects are mainly aimed at foreigners, GGC nationals and well off Bahraini's as they are beyond and above what the local population can afford.

Population growth and industrial development have reduced the amount of agricultural land and lowered the water table, leaving aquifers vulnerable to saline contamination.

In recent years, the government has attempted to limit extraction of groundwater (in part by expansion of seawater desalinization facilities) and to protect vegetation from further erosion.

In 1994, 100% of Bahrain's urban dwellers and 57% of the rural population had pure water.

Bahrain has developed its oil resources at the expense of its agricultural lands. (2.82% (2000) 2.0566 % (2016) arable land)

As a result, lands that might otherwise be productive are gradually claimed by the expansion of the desert, "rezoned" and turned into government housing projects or investment plots and private housing projects by landowners in the "green Belts" near the Saudi causeway, Adhari<%2Fspan>" target="_blank">Adhari and surrounding areas.

"Rezoned Adhari"

Pollution from oil production was accelerated by the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and the resulting damage to oil-producing facilities in the Gulf area, which threatened the purity of both coastal and ground water, damaging coastlines, coral reefs, and marine vegetation through oil spills and other discharges

The nuclear facility in (Bushehr) Iran contributes also to pollution of the Arabian Gulf with catastrophic result for Bahrain as it will be our sole source of water after the aquifers that we share with Saudi Arabia are dried up,

(Already we are seeing a huge increase of Thyroid related disease in Bahrain since 1990

In 1991, Iraqi forces attempted to stop US marines from landing on the Gulf coast by opening valves in the Sea Island oil terminal and dumped oil from tankers across the Persian Gulf directly into the sea. 

This caused an oil slick over 100 miles wide and 5 inches thick that covered much of the Gulf. The final tally puts the amount of oil spilled between 6 million and 8 million barrels of oil.

A cleanup on the shoreline was never done and up to 800 kilometres of coastline is still contaminated with oil.

The Al Areen Wildlife park and Reserve<%2Fspan>" target="_blank">Al Areen Wildlife park and Reserve was established in 1976 and is home to threatened Gulf species, including the Arabian oryx, gazelle, zebra, giraffe, Defassa waterbuck, addax, and lesser kudu.

Originality the wildlife reserve was 10 km2 in 1976 but it is now down to a mere 7 km2.

This decrease is due to it now being part of Al Areen Holdings, who have "rezoned" part of the wild life park for projects like " Al Areen Palace & Spa, The “”Lost Paradise of Dilmun” Water Park, Sarab Al Areen, Domina Prestige - Al Areen, Al Waha Resort, Downtown Al Areen, Al Areen Medical Centre, Oryx Hills, Sunset Hills, Al Areen Homes, and a number of residential villages, entertainment and recreational facilities.

Bahrain has also established captive breeding centers for falcons and for the rare Houbara bustard. The goitered gazelle, the greater spotted eagle, and the green sea turtle are considered endangered species.

AlAreen Holdings masterplan

Tubli Bay is an inshore coastal area situated in the north-east of Bahrain. It is characterized by its unique ecology as it provides a habitat for important coastal ecosystems, such as mangroves and seagrass (image mangroves 2003 is the only place in Bahrain with an ecological interaction between mangroves, seagrass and corals. These three systems are important for productivity of coastal fisheries that society depends on.

Manama, the capital city, lies north of the Bay. It has a population of about 157,000 people and a metro population of 330,000 and the population is increasing as Manama is the commercial hub of Bahrain and many people prefer to live within easy reach of the centre. This can be clearly seen in the area surrounding Tubli Bay where a large area of coast is being infilled for urban development each year.

For the past forty or so years, however, the Bay has been under threat from increased human activity. Infilling the coast for development has caused the size of the Bay to decrease from 23.5 square km in 1956 to 16.1 square km in 1996 to 9 square Km in 2005 due to illegal land reclamation, even though it was by Royal degree decide in 2006 that is was to be a 13,5 square Km protected area

Sandwashing plants continue to discharge silt into the Bay daily, and the dumping of rubble and litter within its surroundings still remain a point of concern. Fishing activities are carried out in the Bay, even though it represents a nursery ground for commercially important species.

Tubil bay used to be an excellent incubator for prawns and fish and was abundant with migratory birds

This on-going illegal activity is causing even more degradation / destruction to the Bay’s vulnerable ecology.


It is very important to make and example of the perpetrators and restore the bay to at least the 13,5 square Km decreed in 2006, by removing the illegal filled in landmasses and buildings and billing those who have committed these heinous crimes under the "watchfull" eyes of those charged to protect it from further development. Laws have to be upheld and examples have to be made.

Tubli Water Pollution Control Centre discharges in excess of 300,000 cubic meters (source) into the Bay every day. 

Finished & Current housing projects on artificial filled in coastal areas - New Towns 

Past Project Allawzi lake filling in to make room for 832 housing units. (under past projects at the Ministry of Housing)

(image GDN)

However the newspapers have been full about the fact that something went really wrong, and the only natural lake in Bahrain has become a festering swamp due to reclamation.

The new housing development has been halted with "plans" to restore the once protected wildlife sanctuary. Now I ask you who made the decision to give the project to build houses to private developer Gulf House Engineering - which by the way was contractually obliged to develop the "Al Luzi Sanctuary, natural habitat and Public park".

The project now is specified as - 296 apartments, 198 villas, first class restaurants and cafes surrounding the lake. (494 housing units not 832 as mentioned on the website of the Ministry of Housing).

(GDN pg5 27th December 2016)

Reclamation work cut off/restricted the natural flow of fresh water, making it a cesspool with stinky stagnant water, a breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes and other unwanted bugs.

It use to have tterapins and fish, even frogs lined with reeds around the lake. Teeming with wildlife. Why was the housing Ministry granted plots of land in a protected zone? Again - by popular rezoning.

The Northern municipality is planning to restore it in co-operation of the developing company.

Lets put it this way talk is cheap and most of the plans never see the light of day, because it will be cheaper and less of an headache to fill it in, and that will be pushed by those who only do lipservice to conserving the natural environment. I will only believe it when I see it. 

All pictures below from (source)

A real good source on birding in Bahrain.

Lawzi lake 2010 Dumistan

The lake, our biggest body of brackish water and all that remains of an old long abandoned sandpit, was full of Terns; White-cheeked and Little, Reef Herons and Black-winged Stilts, a few Kentish Plovers, Little Egrets, a solitary Grey Heron and Little Grebes . With breeding Slender-billed Gulls.

Ras Al Barr Resort -New Project

1.5M sqm reclamation development

SSH was awarded the new Ras Al Barr Resort in Bahrain, following a tendering process after competing against national and international firms for PK Development Company W.L.L.

The Ras Al Barr development is located to the south of Durrat Al Bahrain resort and in close proximity to Ras Al Barr. The project will be developed on a total site area of 1100 hectares, with approximately 440 hectares of reclaimed land. 

The development will require both dredging and reclamation activities as well as subsequent development of the reclaimed land mass. The first phase is an open gated development and consists of three islands comprising of small to medium residential clusters, waterfront apartment blocks, souk, yacht club, four hotels, schools, commercial area, mosque, and beach area. The second phase consists of the gated community development comprising of medium to large residential waterfront mix spread on 17 islands.

SSH was selected as the main consultant, and services to the new 1.5M sqm reclamation development will include master planning, architecture and engineering, supported by AECOM for infrastructure, marine, and environmental consultancy services.

Published on Apr 23, 2015

On the shores of the Gulf, a research team from Qatar’s Environmental Science Centre are on their way to study a vital component of the world’s oceans: mangroves.

According to a World Wildlife Fund for Nature report, the entire multi-trillion dollar marine resource is in danger of failing. The oceans are changing faster than at any other point in tens of millions of years with intense pressure from overfishing, pollution and acidification.

Nick Clark reports from Qatar.

Salman Town - Madinat Salman under constuction

Around 75,500 homes, a university, hospital, aquarium and aquatic physiotherapy centre were planned when HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander, laid the foundation stone for the project in October 2002.

Nov 2006

The new town, in the north-western part of Bahrain, will be divided into 19 separate islands, connected by bridges.

June 2014

A consortium of Kuwaiti-based Aresco and Bahrain-based Tamkon Company has won a $26.5mn (BHD 10mn) contract for work on the second phase of the Northern Town residential project.

Bahrain’s Ministry of Housing awarded the deal, which will see 316 housing units built on the “Island 14” plot

Feb 2016

SSH, a leading design, construction supervision and project management firm in the Middle East, has been appointed as the contract manager and site supervision consultant for Al Madina Al Shamaliya (Northern Town), a major islands project off the northern coast of Bahrain.

The Islands 13 & 14 (East) are expected to deliver 2,000 housing units

July 2018

THIRTY-ONE places of worship, 63 educational institutions and 14 health facilities are among projects planned for the new Salman Town.

Also a maritime centre, cultural hall, sports stadium, a central park, two wildlife gardens, 100 small parks, a 2.5 square kilometre coast, 31 square kilometres of public beach and walkways covering a total of 120 square kilometres

It is expected to grow to a total population of 90,000. (in my view it fall far short of the 75500 homes first promised in 2002) at an average of 3 inhabitants per home only 30 000 homes what happened?

Distribution of the first 3000 homes has started in May 2018.

31 religious centres include nine regular sized mosques, two Islamic centres and two small mosques.

The 63 educational facilities include a university, eight secondary schools, five intermediate schools, 13 primary schools and 36 nurseries and kindergartens.

Health facilities will include a general hospital, five health centres and eight clinics, while there will also be a police station, a fire station and a Coast Guard station.

Community-related developments include a petrol station, a bus station, a multi-purpose hall, an elderly care centre, a post office and three general service centres

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