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Middle East: Green in the middle

The giant Diyar Al Muharraq development is setting bold new environmental standards for reclamation projects in the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The £1.93bn Diyar Al Muharraq development, one of the largest mixed-use residential developments in Bahrain, is located off the north Coast of Muharraq Island and will house around 120,000 people.

A large percentage of the homes provided will target the affordable housing market, a commitment made by Diyar Al Muharraq since the project’s inception in 2005.

Bahrain map

Initially, this was developed to ensure the creation of a successful community. However, with recent global economic changes, affordable housing has emerged as a more resilient real estate product and one that may be adopted by similar projects under development in the region.

Progress on track

At its closest point, the site is located just 500m offshore from the northern coast of Muharraq Island, near to the Bahrain International Airport. The 12km² site is split into two stages, each requiring over 30M.m³ of dredged material. With 95% of reclamation and 85% of edge protection for the first 6km² stage already finished, progress is on track to meet the planned completion date at the beginning of 2010.

The first stage includes 20km of revetment sections, varying in size depending on their orientation, location and exposure to incoming waves. Natural rock from a local quarry is being used for all revetments with the exception of the most exposed islands on the north side of the development, perpendicular to the Shammel winds and swells.

These will be protected on their outer face by a single layer of 1.5m³ concrete armour units, with a subsequent layer of 6t rock armour at the crest of the revetment to reduce overtopping discharge and improve its appearance. A key feature of the development will be the creation of sandy beaches that are freely accessible to the public − a rarity in Bahrain.

Challenging design

The concept behind the main beach, located to the south east of the reclamation area, was to form an uninterrupted stretch of sand with amenities and more open views along the coast.

“This option is inherently more challenging to design than sheltered pocket beaches,” says Scott Wilson marine project manager Craig Thackray.

“For this reason, a number of offshore breakwaters and carefully designed and oriented groynes are being introduced to protect the beach from incoming waves and reduce lateral drift and overall erosion.” Scott Wilson is scheme designer and is taking on a variety of roles including concept masterplanner, marine designer and modeller, supervising engineer and environmental consultant.

As one of the first projects in Bahrain to implement a comprehensive environmental management plan, there were few existing national standards to be met.

“With environmental regulators we created a bespoke monitoring system in line with best international practice.”

Justine Carr, Scott Wilson

“Working in conjunction with the environmental regulators we created a bespoke monitoring system in line with best international practice,” says Scott Wilson principal environmental scientist Justine Carr.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) included collecting what Scott Wilson claims is the most detailed set of baseline data ever compiled in Bahrain, now being used to measure changes to conditions and monitor the project’s environmental performance.

An online system that provides continuous updates and analysis monitors the environmental impact of the dredging and reclamation work.

A new environmental benchmark

The data input and net access (DIANA) system uses strategically placed fixed monitoring stations around the reclamation area along with mobile stations on boats to provide a steady stream of data which is analysed and compared against internally developed quality assurance standards.

If these are breached, the system informs operators and regulatory bodies such as the Directorate for Environmental Assessment and Planning, for their action.

Diyar Al Muharraq chief executive officer Aaref Hejres predicts a rise of such systems in the region. “We have had much interest from both parliament and the government of Bahrain for such initiatives, we are setting a new environmental benchmark in Bahrain.”

Middle East: Green in the middle

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