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Bahrain Bay

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COMPANY Case
Bahrain Bay: Building Customer Relations for the Future
Bahrain Bay Development is a joint venture between Arcapita Bank and a Bahrain-based investment group. It is a $2.5 billion development off the northeast coast of Manama in the Kingdom of Bahrain that included creating a entire island.
The project will be a mix of commercial, residential, and retail units. All of the construction will be set around the Manama waterfront. The centerpiece of the project will be Bahrain’s first Four Seasons hotel.
Bahrain Bay got underway in 2006 with a land reclamation extending to 430,000m2. The global headquarters of Arcapita and the new hotel were due to be completed in 2008. Phase Three of the operation will involve the construction of residential, commercial, and retail units. The whole project, due for completion in 2010 will cover an area of some 1.1 million m2.
The architectural and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the ultra modern site. In 2005, when the project had been given final approval, Atif A. Abdulmalik, the CEO of Arcapita, sai, “Just five months from the initial announcement of this project, the preparatory stages for design and planning considerations have progressed very well and Bahrain Bay BSC is able to launch Bahrain Bay ahead of schedule. A month from now, site work will commence on what we believe will be an outstanding addition to the Kingdom of Bahrain, as befits its place as a regional center for banking and finance. With its futuristic, urban designs, Bahrain Bay will be a stunningly presented collection of waterfront residential, retail, and commercial developments, representing a unique new focal point in Bahrain.”
Abdulmalik went on to explain the importance of the project for Bahrain: “There are many aspects that make Bahrain Bay a particularly attractive opportunity. The demographic changes within Bahrain, its proximity to the rapidly growing Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, and the location within Manama’s prime northern corridor make this a compelling project. Added to these, the early commitment of the highly regarded Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts, the innovative architectural design, and the experience and track record of each of the companies involved in the development are among the many other components that make this a unique proposition.”
The planning phase of the operation was not undertaken lightly, advice and support was sought from a variety of sources, Abdulmalik explained. “The project team has taken soundings from the marketplace throughout the planning stage. Response from every quarter has been excellent, and Bahrain Bay BSC is already in discussions with several interested parties to participate as developers of the other subprojects of Bahrain Bay.”
By March 2008, the development had succeeded in selling 60 percent of the units to domestic and international companies. In the beginning, many analysts had believed that it was a mad scheme to make a new island and then try to sell the land on it at a premium to hotel developers and retailers. The analysts Could not have been more wrong. The project was able to release the news at the global property exhibition, MIPIM in Cannes, France, where the marketing teams for the project were attending the exhibition and seeking additional investors and developers. It was an ideal event, attracting nearly 26,000 property and investment professionals from around the world. In March 2008, Bob Vincent, the chief executive of Bahrain Bay, said, “This news confirms that international and regional developers and investors are committed to our vision of creating a new waterfront community for the rapidly developing north short of Manama, the vibrant hub of Bahrain’s business district. As the economy of Bahrain grows and diversifies, a new community will be created that will offer a way of living and working designed for the 21st century.” So successful was the project so far, that the investors and developers were already looking for other sites around the world where island-making projects could be launched. Nothing so far had been left to chance with the project. Alloptic, a U.S.-based company that provides optical access networks had been brought onboard in 2007. The intention was to provide Bahrain Bay with a next-generation access network together with a complete communications, entertainment, security, and building management system. The idea was that Bahrain Bay would offer constant wireless broadband connectivity and would allow both residents and visitors total access to information and communications. Even the background music in public areas could be changed if required. Many of the facilities services would also be controlled and automated through the new network. Vincent said of this part of the project: “Bahrain Bay is committed to helping develop a commercially sound and ecologically viable approach to development. Our goal is to ensure that Bahrain Bay is a self-governing and self-sustaining community, supporting an exceptional quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors alike. In developing the Bahrain Bay community, we recognized early on the importance that digital connectivity plays in both residential life and creating enhanced productivity for businesses. Identifying, locating, and deploying the right communications infrastructure has been an integral part of our development process. We believe that the Alloptic solution provides us with the world-class infrastructure Bahrain Bay demands.” By July 2008, the project had moved on even further in terms of sales and marketing. The managers of the project could now announce that they had sold 80 percent of the land “We have been marketing the project for about 16 months now, and over the next 12-24 months, we will see the remaining parcels being sold.” Said Vincent. That success has been built around willingness to take advice from key stakeholders within the project, including our shareholders and government, about what they would like to see as their final outcome, and following their advice and delivering their expectations. It has also been enhanced through our own initiatives, such as spending the time and effort to go offshore and exhibit the opportunity of Bahrain Bay. So far, we have attracted CapitaLand, one of Asia’s largest developers, who will be developing a $800 million development within the project. We have also attracted developers from India, France, and the United States. Subregional developers from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain have also committed and are progressing their design development process.” Bahrain Bay is not the only development taking place and firmly positioning Bahrain as a major financial and commercial center. Other key projects include the Bahrain Investment Wharf, Bahrain Financial Harbour, Bahrain City Centre, Durrat Al Bahrain, and Amwaj Islands. Between them they are contributing 27.4 percent average growth per annum to the country’s real estate sector. In order to imbed the project into the community, Bahrain Bay decided to sponsor and make a substantial donation to the Busiateen Football Club. Vincent explained why: “As Bahrain Bay develops a new waterfront community along the north shore of Manama, it is imperative that we take our philosophy of community development and support into the communities already present around Bahrain Bay. The community we are creating will affect not only the people and businesses who wish to live and operate in Bahrain Bay, but it will also touch those communities around it for a long time to come. By investing in and working with local activities now, we are creating the foundations for a long lasting partnership between Bahrain bay and its wider community. Our support of Busaiteen represents how we are making our objective a reality. Sport is an important part of the social fabric of any comminuty, and it’s great to be part of the Busaiteen story, Bahrain Bay’s local team, and we hope that our donation will help them along the way to great achievements in the league this year.” As far as the overall marketing plan is concerned, Bahrain Bay sees it as an evolving process. The key marketing messages are: * Communicate a wide range of messages to the broadest range of audiences * Address challenges as they present themselves in the competitive marketplace * Ensure that all marketing messages conform to the highest possible standards * Support the brand name of Bahrain Bay as a vision of the businesses future
The Bahrain Bay’s Web site is an extensive one (http://www.bahrainbay.com). It is, understandably very corporate. The international and Middle Eastern press carries a large number of stories on the project, testament that the first of the marketing issues are being addressed by the business.
Questions for Dicussion 1. What are Bahrain Bay’s four foundational philosophies, and how might they be used as marketing tools? 2. What would you see as being Bahrain Bay’s mission? 3. What is the MIPIM, and why was it important for Bahrain Bay to target its potential customers, investors, developers, and retailers? 4. Why might the Kingdom of Bahrain be an attractive location for overseas investors? 5. What are Bahrain’s closest competitors for inward foreign investment? 6. What part of the marketing mix is related to the football sponsorship, and what function does it perform?

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