Could Bahrain be the Next Dubai?

Could Bahrain be the Next Dubai?

Bahrain Financial Harbour

Bahrain is being noticed as one of the best property markets in the Middle East for foreign investment.

The Middle East is a surprisingly popular property investment and relocation destination because of the wealth and job opportunities. Dubai was the number one spot for this before the crash, but now people are being put off by the continued volatility in the market; with failed developments littering the landscape and property prices still faltering. Could Bahrain take its place?

Bahrain is an oil-rich country, in which oil revenues account for a domineering 25% of gross domestic product. Keen to diversify its economy, the government is very much behind the property market, and is taking every measure possible to make it easy for foreigners to buy property in Bahrain. For instance foreigners can now apply for yr residency, which allows them to buy property freehold and is easily renewable every five years.

Bahrain property prices fell by only 10% during the recent downturn, which is a solid performance compared to Dubai (300 miles east) where prices fell by closer to 50% at last count. Whereas many Dubai developments were cancelled, Bahrain’s were only suspended, and, according to reports all have now been resumed.

But that is not the only difference; developments in Bahrain are focussed on low-rise elegance rather than high-rise razzmatazz.

However, in other ways Bahrain is driving down the same roads as Dubai did, for instance walking round show apartments and villas in Bahrain you would be forgiven for thinking you were in a Marbella show house, with modern marble, granite and chrome dominant throughout.

This is not a fault though; Bahrain wants to become a global real estate destination, and is rightly taking an international outlook on all aspects of property sales in order to do so, right down to the Marks and Spencers food in the show-house refrigerators.

When you look at Bahrain now, you can see that it has the makings of being a sought after location for foreign purchasers; shops familiar to the west, i.e. BHS, M&S, Debenhams and Virgin line the streets, as well as designer boutiques by Gucci and Burberry, and the new luxury developments are being built around PGA golf courses.

Bahrain is currently playing catch-up with Dubai, which is still one of the world leaders in business infrastructure. But this is easily made up for by the better economic prospects and stability in the property market.

Bahrain is keen to avoid and hyperbole being attached to its construction industry and property market, so as not to deter foreign investment over fears of over-supply. Barring a few hiccups, like the 60 burial mounds — some 4,000 years old — razed by developers in a Buri village, which Bahraini authorities wanted to win UN designation as a world heritage site.

Hiccups aside, Bahrain could easily replace Dubai as the hottest place for foreign investment and relocation in the Middle East and therefore in the world.

Photo credits: Fractal via Flickr