Bahrain’s real estate sector is witnessing a major shift with both buyers and investors looking for smart and sustainable properties to reduce carbon footprints.
This was highlighted at Cityscape Bahrain Day 2, on Wednesday this week, when Noor AlKhulaif, Minister of Sustainable Development, outlined the series of steps taken over the years to explore sustainable real estate – as Bahrain along with neighbouring Gulf States ensure they are environmentally responsible and economically viable.
MAJOR CHANGE TO NET-0
Bahrain has committed to reach net zero by 2060, with a number of interim goals to be achieved by 2035, to reduce emissions by 30 percent via decarbonisation and other green initiatives.
“We all recognise that the real estate sector is witnessing a major change, with sustainability at the core of investment decisions,” said Ms. AlKhulaif.
“Property owners and developers are setting new zero goals in their existing portfolios and new investments to ensure there is transparency as well as commitment to sustainability.”
The minister was speaking during the Cityscape Bahrain conference entitled ‘Sustainability and Investment in Bahrain’, in which she outlined steps taken by Bahrain to provide green solutions in the real estate sector, and the challenges ahead.
“This is a critical year for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or the SDGs, as the world is marking the midpoint towards its 2030 implementation,“ said Ms. AlKhulaif in her remarks.
“This makes the timing of the Cityscape 2023 important as real estate is seen as a catalyst towards achieving many SDGs.”
Ms. AlKhulaif was appointed as head of the newly set up Sustainable Development Ministry and, in July this year, presented a comprehensive report, which she also mentioned in her speech this week.
The second Voluntary National Review 2023 was presented earlier this year by the minister in the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development in New York.
Key pledges and achievements made by Bahrain in the report:
- Solar and wind projects are to generate 5 percent of the country’s electricity by 2025, increasing it to 20 percent by 2035;
- The government delivered on its commitment to provide 40,000 housing units to citizens between 2013 and last year, through the construction of five new cities financed by the GCC Development Programme and the private sector;
- Plans to set up a National Urban Observatory and increase the network of public parks and green spaces;
- The National Adaptation Investment Plan aims to tackle challenges such as rising sea levels, water scarcity, food security and extreme temperatures – projects include setting up climate-smart nurseries for afforestation planning, control of animal diseases, and developing climate-resistant and low-carbon livestock and poultry value chain and fish-rearing habitats;
- Committed to quadruple the mangrove coverage across coastal areas by 2035 as part of plans to achieve net zero by 2060;
- Plans to double the number of trees – from 1.8m currently to nearly 3.6m by 2035 – through expansion of afforestation projects on streets and intersections.
Ms AlKhulaif told participants at Cityscape that Bahrain has aligned its Economic Vision 2030 to meet SDGs.
“We recognise that sustainability requires a transformation to a more diversified economy, driven by a thriving private sector,” she said.
“It is our desire to achieve this sustainable economic diversification by creating a roadmap to turbocharge strategic sectors, including the real estate sector, manufacturing, tourism and logistics.”
NEW BUNDLE OF INVESTMENTS
The minister stressed at the heart of Bahrain’s policies is the 2023-2026 government plan titled ‘From Recovery to Sustainable Growth’ with strong alignment to the SDGs in the social, economic and environmental fronts, while the Economic Recovery Plan launched in 2021 advocates for inclusive recovery post the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Within these priorities and initiatives, a new bundle of investments in strategic projects with more than $30 billion was announced, covering multiple sectors including telecommunications, tourism, education, manufacturing and healthcare- which contributed to the recovery of the real estate sector post Covid-19,” stated the official.
Ms AlKhulaif told participants about the real estate sector’s contribution to provide affordable housing with basic services, green space and other services.
She said this helps contribute to good mental and physical health, which is also meeting SDG-3 goals that cover good health and wellbeing targets.
“We are improving energy efficiency of buildings and installing rooftop solar systems that will save (power) costs, but also enhance value for investors and contributes to SDG-7 goal that is to provide affordable and clean energy.”
The Bahraini official further explained that having a resilient infrastructure backed by innovation and green solutions lays the foundation for successful economies and communities.
“A successful real estate sector will contribute to job creation and higher income and economic growth,” said Ms. AlKhulaif.
“This supports the efforts towards the SDG-8 goal of decent work.”
“Bahrain is embracing digital trends to be part of the real estate ecosystem to have a lower carbon footprint, using eco-friendly materials and automated systems through which we can optimise energy use.
“I want to emphasize at this event to city planners, architects, engineers, environment professionals, and our students, to not only learn, but to also explore the future of sustainability in the real estate sector.”
Meanwhile, Informa Markets Vice President Chris Speller, in his opening remarks on Wednesday, told the audience they are extending the Cityscape 2023 three-day exhibition until Saturday due to the positive response from visitors, homeowners and investors.
The second day of the conference on Thursday will be held under the theme: Digital Transformation and Start-Up Innovation.
Projects worth over $8 billion are being showcased at the biggest real estate exhibition in Bahrain that was opened on Tuesday at the Exhibition World Bahrain in Sakir by its patron, HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
The exhibition features over 58 real estate projects, commercial and residential, with participation of international private developers.