Bahrain-China direct flights ‘to start soon’

Direct flights to China on Gulf Air are set to launch early next year, Chinese Ambassador Ni Ruchi has said.

Speaking during an event held to mark the 10th Anniversary of the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’, Mr Ruchi told local media representatives that plans to directly link Bahrain and China by air would come to fruition soon.

The ambassador also said that Chinese companies are expecting to win the bid to build and operate a number of projects, including the Bahrain Metro, infrastructure development and energy.

“In 2018, the Bahraini government signed a memorandum of understanding on co-operation in the framework of the BRI, and the two countries have since worked together on a number of projects,” he added.

The BRI is a global development strategy that aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe through a network of roads, railways, ports, and other infrastructure.

According to a World Bank report, the Belt and Road Initiative has contributed to a 4.1 per cent increase in trade among participating countries, a 5pc increase in foreign direct investment, and a 3.4pc increase in the GDP of low-income countries.

It has been praised by some for its potential to boost economic growth and connectivity, but it has also been criticised for its environmental impact and for the potential for debt traps, as some countries have borrowed money from China to fund BRI projects and have struggled to repay the loans.

“In Bahrain, the BRI has been credited with helping to create jobs and boost economic growth. The BRI has also helped to improve trade relations between Bahrain and China, with the value of bilateral trade reaching $2.36 billion in 2022,” Mr Ruchi.

The event included visits to the Al Dur Power Station Project Phase 2 Independent Water and Power Project (IWPP) and the East Sitra Housing Project built by China Machinery Engineering Corporation (CMEC).

The plant, inaugurated in May this year, has a generation capacity of 1,500 MW of electricity, with a desalination capacity of 50 million gallons of water daily.

Construction works on the project were carried out by China’s Sepco III, which will complete full handover of the plant to the operating company next year.

This has taken Bahrain’s overall production capacity to 5,044 MW of electricity and 204 million gallons daily of desalinated water.

The East Sitra housing project, with a total of 2,877 housing units and related infra works, will be implemented in three phases. The first phase of the project comprising 1077 homes began construction in March 2021 and will be completed in the near future, while the third phase is expected to start this year.

Officials from CMEC said the company is willing to actively participate in constructing Bahrain’s infrastructure, green energy, manufacturing, housing, and other fields to help Bahrain’s economic diversification, digital, low-carbon transformation, and improve people’s livelihood, prosperity, and stability.




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