Local developer to grow “health islands”

Ithmaar Development Company (IDC), the development arm of the Bahrain-based Ithmaar banking group, plans to establish “health island” projects – similar to the one it is building in Bahrain – in three other countries.

IDC intends to bring the Dilmunia Health Island concept to Tunisia, Morocco and Malaysia. The size of the investments will be similar, if not higher than the amount committed to the Bahrain project, where construction and reclamation alone are estimated to cost US$1.6 billion. The aim is to create a centre for health and wellness tourism.

Dilmunia, which is currently being constructed on a manmade island off the country’s northeast coast, will include state-of-the-art diagnostic, nutrition and diabetes, cosmetic surgery, aesthetic medicine, alternative medicine and sports medicine centres. The complex includes a 358-bed hospital and a 216-bed women and children’s hospital.

Located around the healthcare facilities will be residential and commercial areas, including hotels offering alternative therapies in their spas. The island, covering an area of 1.25 million square metres, will have three five-star hotels, a four-star hotel, 118 villas and 1,362 housing units complete with associated amenities. The project will also include deluxe spas and boutique hotels as well as residential clusters, beauty and wellness shops, and retail and leisure facilities.

Construction of the first phase is slated for a 2012 completion, with the second phase by 2015. Reclamation work started in March and will take 15 months to complete. IDC is seeking a range of partners to run the hospitals and hotels.

Dilmunia will be located very close to Bahrain International Airport, providing connectivity with the region and the rest of the world. Bahrain is also well connected to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is a potentially large market for Dilmunia. Additional road links will provide added connectivity between Bahrain and Qatar within the next few years.

IDC has formed a dedicated healthcare entity, Ithmaar Health. This will establish a network of outpatient and diagnostic facilities across the GCC countries, which will be linked to the Dilmunia Health District and other regional referral centres. IDC is looking for partners to work with on the Dilmunia Health Island project.

IDC is working for Dilmunia to become a global concept and work ranging from feasibility studies to master plan development, is already under way in North Africa and Southeast Asia. Feasibility studies in Morocco and Tunisia have been completed. The projects are at the master plan stage and construction will begin early next year. Feasibility studies in Malaysia will be completed within two months.