Coastal Development and Land Reclamation, Bahrain

Bahrain's massive land reclamation projects have placed huge pressure on the country's fishing industry and the livelihoods of traditional fishing communities.


For political and economic reasons, systematic sea reclamation started in Bahrain in 1990. Between 60 and 70 square kilometres of land under the sea were reclaimed in order to construct artificial islands such as the 2.7 square kilometer (1 square mile) AMWAJ Islands, the 2.5 square kilometer Diyar Al-Muharraq, and the 2 square kilometer Durrat Al-Bahrain, among others. [1]

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Basic Data
NameCoastal Development and Land Reclamation, Bahrain
Accuracy of LocationLOW country/state level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Urban development conflicts
Aquaculture and fisheries
Specific CommoditiesLand
Sand, gravel
Ecosystem Services
Tourism services
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIn the year 2000, the land area of Bahrain was 711.85 sq. km., and in the year 2012 the land area of Bahrain was recorded as 770.00 sq. km. That is an increase of more than 8% of the total land area of Bahrain or 58.15 sq. km. in the span of twelve years.
Project Area (in hectares)10,000
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date1980
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Housing

Housing Policies and Strategic Planning Directorate

Ministry of Public Works

Directorate of Fisheries
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFishermen's Protection Society

Bahrain Society for Professional Fishermen
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingLocal government/political parties
Social movements
Trade unions
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationArtistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCriminalization of activists
New legislation
In May 2010, Adel Ali Mohammed, 37, a Bahraini fisherman, was shot and seriously injured by the Qatari Coast and Borders Security forces.
Development of AlternativesBahraini fishermen are demanding financial compensation as well as the protection of ports and fisheries from future developments
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Bahrain's policy of coastal development and land reclamation has not stopped.
Sources and Materials

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[3] - The Implications of Planning Failure: Evaluating the Impacts of Land Reclamation Policies on Fishermen Communities in Bahrain - Fatema Alzeera
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[7] - Bahrain lifts ban on shrimp trawling - 2015
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[5] - Bahraini fishermen end strike - 2009
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[1] - As They Grow, City-States Are Reclaiming Land From The Sea - 2017
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[2] - Bahraini fishermen blame development for forcing them into gunsights of Qatar - 2010
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[4] - Fishermen strike over Bahrain development - 2009
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[8] - Bahraini fishermen protest lack of action 'to protect their livelihoods' - 2017
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[9] - Bahrain: An Island Without Sea - 2013
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[6] - Shrimping ban proposal draws mixed reactions - 2016
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Media Links

Video Showing Bahrain's land cover change between 1987 and 2013 - American Association for the Advancement of Science
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Bahrain's land reclamation controversy - FT World
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Other Documents

Mural in Damestan Translation: "They said we shall build a pearl in your land,

I said my land is the pearl of all lands.

Today we have no sea to swim in,

Or sea to catch any shrimp in."

@waleedsha3lan, Instagram
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Fishermen protest in their boats off the shore of Manama Photo: Reuters
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The coast is a public right, mural in the Damestan village @waleedsha3lan, Instagram
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The timeline of land reclamation in Bahrain.
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Fishermen staging a sit in Laala Kashef Alghata - July 2017
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Meta Information
Last update26/01/2018