The Kingdom of Bahrain, an island state of around 700 km2 consisting mainly of desert, has enjoyed economic prosperity since the 1930s due to its natural abundance of oil and gas.
Bahrain is the third most densely populated sovereign state after Monaco and Singapore, with a density of more than 1,700 inhabitants/km2. Nearly the entire population is concentrated in the north of the country, which has been developed to such an extent that it is a single conurbation.
Oil resources are declining and the prospect of them drying up means the country must restructure its economy.
Arable land is disappearing, representing only 3% of the country, despite Bahrain traditionally being known for its date farming. Desertification is a major environmental issue in Bahrain given the erosion of farming areas with the urbanization of coastal areas.
A policy of creating embankments and artificial islands to house new speculative real-estate projects, without any overall plan, poses a threat to Bahrain’s marine life and island identity.


Updating the country's territorial planning strategy


Kingdom of Bahrain Ministry of Works

Key figures

Period of services

April 2016 - March 2018

Key challenges

The contract awarded to the French consortium comprising Expertise France, AREP, EGIS and setec in spring 2016 involves updating the country's territorial planning strategy. This project combines a French vision of territorial development with local skills available in the many governmental organizations working in economic and territorial development. A team of residents supported by back-office teams in France has audited processes, suggested new management methods and updated development policies in cooperation with the government authorities in charge of implementation at the end of the two-year contract, which started in April 2016.
Within the consortium, setec is in charge of updating the integrated territorial strategy, paying particular attention to consultations with Bahraini institutions.
Where should new inhabitants be housed? What urban density is appropriate in a context of scarce real-estate and family cohabitation, with homes shared by an average of six people? How can the seafront be protected and enhanced, while avoiding full privatization? How can the environment and natural resources be protected? How can mobility be improved without increasing the burden on road infrastructure? Etc.