Plans to build ‘second airport in 15 years’ for better connectivity

PLANS are being discussed for Bahrain to potentially have a second airport in 15 years.

The new airport, which could be operational by 2034, is part of a “wish list” for Bahrain’s future growth, according to Transportation and Telecommunications Minister Kamal Ahmed.

He said the idea was to start construction work by at least 2030, however, no further details about the planned location or infrastructure were revealed.

“My wish list by 2030 will be all about connectivity,” said the minister.

“With the right digital and physical infrastructure, we should be, by then, building the future airport.

“The current airport (after the modernisation project) has limitations and by 2030, if we succeed in making Bahrain a thriving country, increasing the growth and development, then by 2034 we should be ready with the new airport.

“I hope that in 2030 we start construction work on the second airport or at least start the process.”

 

Expansion

Bahrain International Airport (BIA), located in Muharraq, is currently undergoing a modernisation programme with a new terminal scheduled to be opened in October.

The $1.1 billion expansion is being financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development as part of a GCC financial assistance package pledged to Bahrain in 2011.

The new 207,000sqm terminal building will include a 4,600sqm departure hall, 104 check-in counters, 36 passport control booths and 24 security screening points.

It is four times the size of the existing terminal and will be able to accommodate 14 million passengers a year.

Mr Ahmed also explained the economic and political aspects of the upcoming 25km King Hamad Causeway, which will be the second causeway linking Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Work on the causeway is set to begin next year and will cost $4 billion, featuring four lanes for vehicles and two lanes for Bahrain’s monorail network, which will be connected to the GCC Railway.

The forthcoming transportation project will run parallel to the existing King Fahad Causeway, accommodating passenger trains, freight trains and road vehicles.

“I also wish to see Bahrain linked to the biggest market in the region which is (Saudi Arabia),” added Mr Ahmed.

“The King Hamad Causeway will benefit Bahrain in social, economic, political and cultural aspects.”

He also highlighted how connectivity and mobility were critical to the economic development of the country – adding that the transportation and telecommunications segments contributed eight per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“We cannot have thriving logistics or manufacturing componential services unless you have a well-developed transportation segment,” he said.

“Connectivity is important – it is about connecting people, connecting roads, air, sea and land transport.

“We are talking about knowledge-based economy and without the enabling infrastructure, be it physical like the ports or digital like the 5G technology, this can’t be achieved.

“Our role in the ministry is to make sure that we have the right enabling environment and the framework to enable both local and international private sector to invest in Bahrain.”

The GDN reported in March on Bahrain’s plans to be one of the first countries globally to provide commercial 5G services by June.

Preparations for the roll-out have been completed, according to Mr Ahmed, with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) last month allocating licensing and spectrum networks to the three major service providers – Batelco, Viva and Zain.

“Moving before others is important – people may wonder why 5G services so early with no one using it, but we don’t want to wait till the demand is there,” explained Mr Ahmed.

Platform

“We want to be among the first countries in the world to offer commercial 5G services and we hope by June or July it will be available.

“As a government we are making sure that all the regulatory hurdles are tackled and the spectrum is available for all the companies.

“So we want to be there – plus Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and autonomous cars cannot be tested and applied in the country without these.

“If you want to make Bahrain the platform for international and local entrepreneurs to choose the country to test and deploy these – we need to make sure the right infrastructure, which is the 5G, is available.” The minister was speaking at the sixth edition of C5 Accelerate’s Policy Hack Series called Fire Side Chat with its executive director Hadyah Fathalla.

The GDN reported in 2014 that the government had announced Fasht Al Jarim, off the northern coast of Bahrain, as the site for the proposed new airport.

However, opponents had said if the plan went ahead it could destroy more than half of the country’s fisheries.

Source: http://www.gdnonline.com/Details/553230

 

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