BAHRAIN. The new Passenger Terminal Building at Bahrain International Airport opened today, featuring a powerful array of commercial and consumer services in an eye-catching environment. The new terminal is one of the most ambitious aviation projects of recent years in the Middle East.

The 210,000sq m terminal, which is four times the size of the existing facility, increases the airport’s capacity to 14 million passengers a year, having handled around 9 million in 2019.

Launchpad for a new era in aviation: Early images of activity at Bahrain International Airport as the new terminal opens

The terminal is the centrepiece of the US$1.1 billion Airport Modernization Program (AMP), one of the largest and most important projects in the Kingdom’s history and the largest investment in Bahrain’s aviation sector for more than 20 years.

Outlining the ambitious vision for commercial operations, Bahrain Airport Company (BAC) noted that there are just over 10,000sq m of core retail and dining space along with a further 2,000sq m for future proofing. The vast space is split 54% for retail and 46% for food & beverage.

Bahrain Duty Free anchors the retail space, having captured the concessions for core category duty free (around 3,250sq m) and for speciality retail (1,500sq m). Click here for our separate profile of the Bahrain Duty Free offer from earlier this week.

Luxury leap forward: Boutiques representing some leading names in fashion & accessories, including watches & jewellery, adorn the retail arena; below, further luxury outlets, food & confectionery and the new consumer electronics zone (including an Apple store) in the terminal 

BAC Chief Commercial Officer Ayman Zainal said: “BIA’s new duty free area will be four times larger than at the existing terminal, offering passengers an improved shopping experience. The new retail areas will be three times bigger, introducing 30 leading brands for the first time in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Airport tenants and partners will also benefit from greater support.

“Moreover, the new terminal’s boutique design means passengers can traverse the arrival and departure areas more quickly than at any other regional airport, which gives them more time to enjoy all the amenities the airport has to offer.”

The senior Bahrain Duty Free and ARI-Middle East teams gather to mark the occasion on Thursday; below, Bahrain Duty Free staff and management hail a milestone moment

The video above shows the Bahrain Duty Free transition team in action at the new facility in recent days

Other retail partners include WHSmith and Relay (Lagardère Travel Retail), which manage two convenience stores each, one landside and one airside respectively. There are two pharmacies, with Boots in one space airside and local player Nasser Pharmacy landside.

Travelex and Global Exchange operate eight foreign exchange outlets between them, four airside and a further four landside.

The Pearl lounge operated by Hala Bahrain; one of two luxury lounges for travellers at the new terminal 

A high-class hotel will open soon through Gulf Hotels Group

The airport has also appointed three telecoms services partners, Batelco, Zain and STC, and offers banking and ATM services too.

SSP is the anchor F&B partner, capturing two major packages via a tender. Between them, these cover 17 units across 3,600sq m. Brands include Illy (coffee); Camden Food Co and Upper Crust (bakery); Jamie Oliver’s Pizza and Deli (fine dining – a first from the UK celebrity chef for the region); BurgerKing and KFC (fast food); TGI Friday’s (family restaurant – and the only F&B outlet to sell alcohol); Food Garden (five outlets) Millie’s Cookies (dessert); Jaipur (India); Levito (Italian) and Ya Salam! (local Shawarma outlet). Mobile units for remote gates include Caffè Ritazza and ‘To Go’ concepts.

In addition to these brands a roof-top Terrace Café in the west pier will open with an outdoor offering by June. This will be temperature-controlled to deal with the hot weather, said BAC.

Lumee is another local restaurant brand, forming one element in a Souq zone that supports local small & medium-sized enterprises. These offer local fashion, jewellery and art as well as food, beverages, souvenirs and Arabic fragrances. Lumee was developed following BAC’s stipulation in its tender documents that bids must include partnership with a local Bahraini restaurant.

In landside F&B, there are five outlets aimed at local businesses and franchises. Al Shaya operates two Starbucks, a McDonald’s and a brand from Saudi Arabia called Al Baik. This is a fast food outlet that BAC said is hugely popular in Saudi Arabia, with plans to expand in other markets. Its planned opening generated surging interest on social media locally when it was announced. Further to this, the landside area includes a dessert concept Crepe Café, run by a local franchisee.

Art and sculpture celebrating the richness of Bahraini culture feature prominently

Other projects under the AMP include a Central Utilities Complex, short-stay multi-storey Car Park, long-stay surface car park, a Super Gate, a fire station, a Fuel Farm Complex housing three jet fuel tanks and a private aviation terminal serving businessmen and private aircraft owners.

Importantly, this state-of-the-art facility represents a step towards achieving the Kingdom’s Economic Vision 2030 diversification and sustainability goals, aimed at developing its position as a financial, cultural, and aviation centre.

The foundation stone for the new terminal was laid in 2016 under the patronage of the late Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, and the Crown Prince, His Royal Highness Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa (who is now Prime Minister).

The new Passenger Terminal was developed with sustainability in mind and is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certificated, making it the largest green building in the Kingdom. BAC has also pledged to deliver a ‘Smart Airport’ to ensure seamless passage through the airport for travellers.

Aside from those noted above, other passenger services include a hotel & spa, an airport clinic, and two lounges, one for Gulf Air Business Class travellers and the other – ‘The Pearl’, which is operated by Hala Bahrain and serves First and Business Class passengers from other airlines.

Video above from the new terminal and Bahrain Duty Free stores courtesy of Bahrain Duty Free CEO & Board Director Bassam Al Wardi (via LinkedIn)

Sense of Place is an important element aimed at engaging travellers with Bahraini culture. The design was aimed at creating a Bahraini look and feel. The terminal also houses the work of local artists, created as part of the Bahraini Art Program. These emphasise Bahrain’s rich heritage, as well as its major artistic and cultural contributions.

In line with an agreement between BAC and Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA), the airport will host regular art and cultural exhibitions at two Cultural Heritage Galleries. These house artworks and artefacts from the Bahrain National Museum’s extensive collection.