NECC ... fast nearing completion.

Work on Bahrain’s New Exhibition and Convention Centre (NECC) in Sakhir is making good headway, with the halls now structurally complete, according to its main contractor, the Bahrain-based Cebarco.

Located next to the Bahrain International Circuit – which was also built by Cebarco in 2004 – the new expo centre is expected to be completed this year (2022).

The project comes as part of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority’s (BTEA) efforts to stay ahead of the competition and meet the kingdom’s needs in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) sector. Additionally, the new exhibition and convention centre is expected to be the largest “Conference City” in the Middle East.

Work has continued non-stop on the site despite the coronavirus pandemic since the foundation stone for the project was laid in January 2020, marking the commencement of above-ground construction works on the new expo centre.

A perspective of the centre.

A perspective of the centre.

The scope of Cebarco’s BD83.6-million ($220.4 million) contract entails the construction of the exhibition and convention centre that is being built on a 309,000-sq-m plot of land. The 149,000-sq-m main building includes 10 exhibition areas, totalling 95,000 sq m, along with dedicated areas for retail and events. The facility will also include a 4,500-sq-m conference hall divided into three separate hi-tech rooms, in addition to 27 small- and medium-sized conference and meeting rooms with the capacity to accommodate approximately 4,000 guests.

Two VIP majlises and a parking lot that can accommodate 1,600 vehicles are also part of the master development. In addition, the parking facility of the proposed Bahrain Sports City, which will be built adjacent to it, would also be used to accommodate the large number of visitors that are expected at the exhibition centre during the major events that it will host.

German consultants Tilke Engineers and Architects, which designed and supervised work on Bahrain International Circuit, is responsible for the design and supervision of the state-of-the-art exhibition centre.

All the exhibition halls at the centre comprise steel structures, while the conference halls and meeting rooms will be a mixture of concrete and steel structures.  

The concrete works are almost completed at the expo facility while internal road works, paving and sewage networks are nearing completion.

Commenting on the progress of work on site, CEO of Cebarco Peter Sellers tells Gulf Construction: “Physical completion structurally is probably at 75 per cent, and by value at around halfway through. The halls are progressing very well and ahead of schedule and are already structurally complete with the conference hall following on early 2022.”

Sellers points out that there have been some reconfiguring of the operations of the building and Cebarco is currently working on this activity with the engineer and end-user to smoothly integrate changes into the construction sequence.

Elaborating on this aspect, he says: “Projects always evolve, particularly when operators are appointed.  We are working with the client and the team from the Ministry of Works to accommodate the changes and we attempt, wherever we can, to provide early warning on price changes and the implications of changing design.  So far, we have assisted with many ideas and we are working constantly with all stakeholders to achieve their aspirations.”

A number of KAR Group companies – of which Cebarco is a part – are also engaged on the NECC project including Kartec, a mechanical and electrical engineering and contracting company; KAR TC, which specialises in tower cranes; KAR Facades, which provides building façade solutions; Marmara/Aqua Art, which is supplying bathroom solutions; and KAR Trading, which is providing solutions for many of the architectural works.