Bahrain will spend approximately $2.5 billion USD on infrastructure projects over the next 10 years, according to Minister of Works Essam Khalaf.
Khalaf, speaking at the Project Management Institute-Arabian Gulf Chapter’s conference this week, said the money to finance these projects would be provided by other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, who have established a $10 billion USD support package for its members.
Specific infrastructure priorities identified include sanitation networks, social development projects, schools and health centers, all of which are in line with Bahrain’s national vision, which calls for increasing the country’s role within the region and improving its people’s living standards, he said.
The projects will also help the country improve its return on investment and achieve its economic vision for 2030, Khalaf added.
Saudi Arabia earlier this month agreed to supply Bahrain with a $448 million USD grant for development projects as part of a larger $2.5 billion USD Saudi pledge, Bahrain News Agency reported.
The grant is based on six agreements signed between the Saudi Fund for Development and Bahrain’s finance minister. One of the six agreements provides $27 million USD for water-related projects across the country, while three support various infrastructure projects with $136 million USD.
Another $200 million USD agreement will support housing and other infrastructure in the country’s southern province, while the country’s education system will receive $85 million USD in funding.
The Saudi pledge is part of a $10 billion USD GCC program made in the wake of the Arab Spring of 2011.
GCC member countries also made plans in November 2012 to complete a common water network by 2020, according to officials in the region.
The water ministries of the six GCC member countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – estimate that it will cost an initial $1 billion USD to complete the project.
They will focus on building desalination plants, with water intakes located mainly on the shores of the Persian Gulf. Water from the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea could also be used to feed the desalination plants.
The common water network is part of a broader strategy to achieve water security in the region. It aims to provide Gulf countries with alternative water sources and help them develop unified standards for desalination.