Bahrain’s government awarded a total of 769 tenders worth $1.7bn in the first half of 2020, the procurement regulator has revealed.
The regulator, the Tender Board, said the biggest winner of public contracts was the construction and engineering sector, which was awarded tenders totalling $588.3m.
This reflected the Bahrain government’s commitment to an extensive pipeline of infrastructure projects, it said.
Like neighbouring Saudi Arabia, Bahrain is seeking to diversify its economy away from a reliance on hydrocarbons.
Major infrastructure projects underway in the kingdom include a new water distribution network, upgrading the Sitrah power and water station, and expanding other water, power, and waste-treatment facilities.
The oil and gas sector won contracts worth $416.3m, followed by materials and equipment ($292.6m), services ($202.4m), and aviation ($172.2m).
Sheikh Nayef bin Khalid Al Khalifa, chairman of the Tender Board, said the government had awarded a total of 47 public tenders worth a combined $21.8m to SMEs.
Oil exploration and production company Tatweer Petroleum was the biggest single spender, awarding $396.5m in tenders. This was followed by the Electricity and Water Authority ($305.3m), the Ministry of Housing ($238.6m), the Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning ($165.2m) and Gulf Air ($156.4m). Other public bodies awarded contracts worth around $410m.
Meanwhile the King Fahad Causeway connecting Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has reopened to trucks but is not expected to resume normal operations before October, Khalid Al Rumaihi, chief executive of Bahrain government sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat, told Gulf Daily News.
The causeway was closed to passenger traffic in March as part of Covid-19 lockdown measures.
On 24 July the bridge was reopened to let Saudi citizens in Bahrain return home and to allow passenger traffic to resume.
Al Rumaihi said the causeway remaining closed posed the single biggest challenge to Bahrain’s economy as it relies “so much on Saudi in terms of customers and purchasing power”.
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