BIDS worth millions of dinars have been submitted by three top investment companies to give one of Bahrain's most popular sea fronts a major facelift.
The Al Fateh Corniche was put up for tendering by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry after a shortage of funds delayed the BD1.2 million project, which was due to have begun in July 2010.
Three private companies have come forward with bids to develop the project with New Investment Company offering $100 million (BD37.7m) followed by Fortune Promoseven for BD36m and Jenan Properties for BD11.4m.
Under the original plans, the ministry would have to build a new walkway and instal playground facilities under the first phase, while the investor would be responsible for recreational and family areas as well as restaurants and coffee shops as part of the second phase of the corniche's 153,430 sqm area facelift.
However, the ministry says the investors should incorporate both phases under their suggested plans to develop the corniche.
Work to clear up the coastline along the corniche is expected to begin early next year.
"Developing the corniche has been delayed for long due to various reasons and we have decided to offer the place to investors to help speed up the facelift process," said Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.
"It is a change of plan from the original idea to have half developed by us and the other half by investors - now the winning bidder will have to cover both private and public facilities, rather than just take parts of the corniche for business.
"Two of the investors already have businesses on the corniche, the Coral Bay and Dolphin Park, which means that there is interest from them to continue providing their services in the future within their current locations.
"Both businesses have long-term contracts with us until 2017 and they will not be affected with the development work that will be carried out by the winning bidder unless their lease period expires, and even then we will be looking into ways to have them stay within the new services that will be provided."
He said that others on the corniche were currently working on expired contracts and will be moved out to pave way for development.
Work had been delayed by a shortage of funds and because the deeds for the corniche's 1km coastline were not registered with the ministry.
However, the Royal Court has transferred the deed under the ministry and a time frame for the project has been set.
The area is part of a 4km public beach project and includes a 3km coastline from near Isa Cultural Centre to the Prince Khalifa Bridge.
The beach will start from the centre, cross around Juffair and pass the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, before ending at the bridge.
Dr Al Ka'abi said the latest phase of the project would see jetties being built at either end of the corniche.
"We have already opened a temporary jetty for Hoora and Gudaibiya residents behind Funland, which will possibly be made permanent," he said.
"Another will be built for Juffair residents behind the Bahrain Specialist Hospital, but we are still waiting for private land to be reclaimed there so we can shape our land.
"Both jetties will be open to the public for amateur fishing and maritime sports."