MANAMA: The @bahrain project will create thousands of jobs for Bahrainis for generations to come, says chief executive officer Nicola Pero.
She hopes to break ground later this year, before construction starts properly during the first quarter of next year - with the first venues scheduled to open between July and September 2012.
"The advantage of this project is that whilst its objective is capital wealth, it's going to deliver really strongly with social wealth as well," Ms Pero told the GDN yesterday.
"This is going to provide amazing opportunities and thousands of jobs for training and deliver careers not just to this generation, but future generations of Bahrainis as well - this is hugely important to us."
With many similar developments worldwide feeling the brunt of the recession and falling by the wayside, Ms Pero was keen that @bahrain had a clear and progressive development plan to ensure that the project did not stagnate.
"What we didn't want to do is get on a tabletop and shout about the project, only to find nothing happening for 12 months," she said.
"Core to this development is the idea of future sustainability and an essence that the BIC is here for the future and we wanted to show strong momentum, alongside clear and decisive planning, to show this."
Plans to create a business park alongside the BIC have existed right from the start of plans to bring Formula One racing to Bahrain.
"It's important to understand that we are not linked to the F1 but linked to the circuit; but F1 is the premier event of the year and the BIC has a long-term contract with the sport," said Ms Pero.
"By having @bahrain next door we will be able to work together to help further enhance motor sport and inject a great deal more business and diversity into the circuit as well."
One of the unique aspects of @bahrain which has made it so attractive to Mumtalakat is that the project will be able to start generating revenue immediately; through the soon-to-launch automotive club and the transport research institute.
It does not require an immediate physical facility to operate as it conducts its research through consultancy, so will be able to open later this year.
"The exhibition and convention facilities will be able to attract business which will transfer immediately, so it's not as if growth is going to start from zero," said Ms Pero.
"This brings in instant business for the hotels, which will drive business for retail; as well as projects like the automotive club and the transport research institute which will generate revenue even before this project has been delivered."
Ms Pero said Bahrain's convention facilities are 100 per cent booked up, having turned away 50 events in the last year.
For an industry worth an estimated $56 billion (BD21.1bn) worldwide per year - this could be a great source of income for the country, she said.
"What I do know is that Bahrain's convention sector puts in 300,000 room nights into Bahrain every year and there are constant inquiries as to availability," she said.
Facilities at @bahrain will be unique, offering participants everything on their doorstep, from shopping to go-kart racing, said Ms Pero.
The attraction would be a development "where you can bring your delegates to a development where you have no transportation problems; retail complexes focused on food, beverage and merchandising and a place where delegates can try out go-karting, drive a car around an F1 track or go to a hummer academy," she said
"Well there's no place in the world that offers that - it's a tremendous thing to be able to offer your delegates," she said.