Airport development in the ME is BIG business

Until the global recession kicked into high gear, the cargo side of the airline business in the Middle East was expanding at a very healthy pace with governments across the region racing to built impressive new freight infrastructure projects.

In early January, Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, chief executive of Bahrain’s Economic Development Board, told local media that the Friendship Causeway “will strengthen Bahrain’s position as the best place in the Middle East for companies to locate in order to develop their businesses across all Gulf Cooperation Council economies.”

Around 40km of twin carriageway will decrease the journey by road between the two countries from five hours to a mere 30 minutes, with the bridge serving as a natural continuation of the King Fahd Causeway, which connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the causeway is slated to provide a connection for future highspeed freight and passenger rail lines.

However, the global slowdown in the construction sector could potentially delay the start of building activities. The Bahrain-Qatar Bridge is part of the Kingdom’s ongoing investment into strengthening its position as a regional transport hub. Bahrain is looking to further capitalise on its strategic location close to big markets, including Saudi Arabia and Iran.

2008 also saw the start of upgrade and expansion plans for Bahrain International Airport.

The Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) is investing in the upgrade of the cargo handling facility.

“We are approaching the expansion of cargo handling capacity in three stages,” according to Osama Al Ali, CEO of BAC. “The short term plans are aimed at enhancing existing terminals. In the medium run we are looking to increase the number of facilities and total capacity levels, and the long term objective is to operate as a global cargo hub, seamlessly integrated with the country’s road and sea networks.”