National Sand Search Project
Survey & Land Registration Bureau

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Answer: Bahrain is a small island located in the Gulf Arabian. The area of the land is 766 km2 which is considered one third with respect to sea area. However, in the past 10 years, the country has been developing in so many ways base on Bahrain economic vision “Bahrain 2030”. Bahrain is an island nation with the maritime boundaries covering an area of 8266.95 sqkm. Regardless of the many projects that have been implemented in Bahrain to Benefit the citizen and reach “Bahrain economic 2030 vision”, Government remains in needs to the sand for the Housing reclamation projects and other infrastructure projects. In order to meet the rapid growth of Bahrain, the sand that was used from the neighboring GCC states is no longer an option. Unfortunately, the cost of buying the sand from other countries is very high and that would have a direct impact on the cost of projects. Being a small island nation Bahrain faces acute shortage of land and resources to meet the rising demand for housing and infrastructure developments. A large amount of reclamation has taken place in the past 20 years for the infrastructure development of Bahrain. Presently an acute shortage of sand resources for reclamation and construction has been observed and government is committed to find a solution for the uninterrupted growth of Bahrain. Since Bahrain is surrounded by sea on all sides it has a good deposit of natural sand resources. The problem faced in extracting this natural resources is the lack of reliable data regarding the sand deposits. In light of this condition the National sand search project is aimed towards identifying the potential sand resources all around Bahrain to continue with the economic growth of Bahrain. The availability of natural resources will boost the implementation of various public and private projects in Bahrain which will benefit the citizens. Especially since Bahrain is having an acute shortage of housing units for its citizens, the government is committed towards creating housing for all in the future. This will improve the living conditions of the citizens and the public outlook towards future.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Answer: In the last decade when the economic growth of Bahrain was at its peak with infrastructure developments the import of sand from other GCC states were stopped. Hence there was an acute shortage of sand resources and the authorities looked for alternate resources to sustain the growth of the Kingdom. The government then decided to tap the available natural sand resources surrounding the waters of Bahrain. Towards this goal an extensive sand search survey was carried out by GEUS in 2008 covering an area of 1100 KM2 at a cost 1.6 million BHD. However this data was not sufficient for any meaningful implementation of the project and the limited amount of sand was obtained from the established borrow areas. Also the areas where sand deposits were found was far from the coast line and hence not feasible for many of the project as bringing sand from far distances would mean escalation in the project cost. In 2013, it was estimated that Bahrain needed 377 million m3 for the government projects, however, there was no data for the available sand resources for undertaking these projects. Therefore the government authorities decided that a national sand search project may be undertaken in order to have a National Marine Chart consisting of all available data which will act as an effective tool for the decision makers.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Answer: Bahrain is the first GCC state to have undertaken an extensive sand search survey to create a database of the available marine natural resources. The creation of National Marine Chart and its efficiency in decision making is a good example that may be followed by the neighbor states. Also this is a unique project where various government organizations have come together to share responsibility and contribute towards successful completion of the project. The data available with each organization was put on a central data base and accessible to all the stake holders. Saving money and resources: As a hydrographic Directorate in SLRB our job is to survey the sea and collect the bathymetry data. However, to get data of the sand resources undersea, installation of “sub bottom profiler” which worth 25000 BD only has achieved the results. Thus, when we do our daily routine job of surveying the sea we are collecting depths and Sand Quantity of that area as well (value addition to SLRB).

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
Answer: The initial sand search survey for the area was carried out by The geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) in the year 2008 to map the available sand deposit in Bahrain waters. An area of 1100 square kilometer was surveyed. The data from this survey was used as the initial tool to decide on the survey area for sand search. The total area was divided into six priority areas depending on the estimated sand availability, proximity to the major project sites, distance from shore line etc. All the available data from various resources were collected and a basic marine map was constructed consisting of bathymetry, submarine cables and pipelines, marine protected areas, marine habitat, future development sites etc and the borrow area was decided keeping all this in mind. For the sand search survey the survey craft was equipped with multibeam echosounder and sub-bottom profiler coupled with DGPS receiver. The bathymetry and the sub-bottom data was simultaneously collected so that both sand volume data as well as the bathymetric information for the navigational charts obtained. The sub-bottom profiler data was processed using latest software wherein the cap rock depth was clearly identified and combining it with the bathy data the sediment thickness was determined. The survey lines were run at 100 meter line spacing for the entire area. The available volume of the sand deposit in the survey area was calculated keeping 1 meter thickness of sediment above cap rock so that the cap rock never get exposed thereby damaging aqua ferrous and other marine habitats. The hydrodynamic studies of the area would help in determining any future impact of dredging tin the designated areas. Once the potential area with sufficient sand deposit is determined, the next step was to carry out bore-hole operations to determine the quality of the sand and to ascertain the survey data. If the lab tests prove that this sand is useful for the projects then a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is carried out to ensure that the excavation of sand from this area will not have any adverse effect on the marine habitat and the environment. If the EIA analysis is in favour of the dredging action then the Marine Resources Directorate official declare the borrow area boundary and the available sand deposit in that area. This data is then incorporated in the National Marine Chart clearly indicating the borrow areas and the quantity and quality of the sand available in each borrow area. This marine Chart will be a very useful tool for the decision makers while considering the implementation of future projects. Once the sand excavation operation of this area commences then a regular monitoring of the dredgers are carried out by the Monitory and Control team. Also regular check surveys are conducted to determine the quantity of sand that has been excavated and also the remaining quantity. The National Marine Chart is regularly updated with this information so that an up-to-date data is available to the decision makers. The survey team also continues with survey of other potential areas to ensure that continuous supply of sand is available for the future growth of the Kingdom of Bahrain.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
Answer: END USERS: such as Ministry of Housing, Ministry of Municipalities affairs (Marine Resources Directorate and Urban Planning), Electricity and Water Authorities, Ministry of Transportation, Supreme Council for Environment, and dredging companies. These different departments are going to benefit from the sand search data for their projects which is going to benefit the citizen of Bahrain. GOV DEPT/BODY: Ministry of Municipalities affairs (Marine resources directorate and Urban Planning), Survey and Land Registration Bureau, Supreme Council for Environment, Ministry of Interior (Coast Guard and Ports and Marine Authorities), Electricity and Water Authorities, and Ministry of Works. These agencies would carry out the whole project and take responsibility to deliver a charts that represent the quantity, quality, and location of the sand for reclamation as well. SERVICE PROVIDER: Ministry of Interior (Coast Guard) and Ministry of Transportation (Ports and Marine Authorities). They would take control of the monitoring and controlling the process of the dredging and make sure everyone else is following the law.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Answer: Bahrain being a member of IHO it is mandated to have up to date Navigational Charts for the safety of navigation in the area. Therefore SLRB is already equipped within state of the art survey craft consisting of latest survey instruments and softwares. The survey craft is fitted with the latest multibeam echosounder and a hull mounted sub bottom profiler. Therefore the initial part of the sand search survey was carried out using the regular budget expenditure of SLRB using the existing man power. The total cost required for the entire sand search project was estimated to be less than 6 million Dinars which will be utilized for the tasks such as Hydrodynamic Studies, Comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment, and Borehole drilling to collect samples and to lab test the quality of sand available. This cost would include acquiring two new survey craft equipped with all the latest hydrographic as well as environmental monitoring sensors and equipment. One survey craft will be more than 20 meter in length which will be used for the deeper areas and the other one will be a small boat for the shallow water and near coast areas. These two survey crafts in addition to the existing survey craft would be able to complete the entire sand search survey in a time span of more than 10 years. Since the new boats will have hydrographic instruments it will be an added value to the operation of the Hydrographic Survey Directorate and the stakeholders. The new boats would require additional manpower of about 11 staff to operate these boats. By acquiring additional man power for the new boat it will be ensured that the normal operation of Hydrographic Survey Directorate and its national mandate is not disturbed in any manner. Also this man power will be an added asset to the stakeholders with their hands on experience on job thereby becoming thorough professional and mangers for the future projects. The equipment, namely the multibeam echosounder and the sub bottom profiler will remain as assets to the stakeholders under the control of the Governance Committee. These instruments can be used for the daily functioning of the SLRB even after the completion of the project. The financial support was given by the Government of the Kingdom of Bahrain on a phased manner. The data and the assets associated belong to the Kingdom of Bahrain. It was also estimated that the cost of this project would be recovered in a short span of time by levying a small fee for the cubic volume of sand excavated. Hence this project does not impose any financial burden on the government budget.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Answer: 1. National Marine Chart:- This chart will consist of different layers of information in a GIS format with which various data can be extracted. Mainly this will have the bathymetric information, cap rock level, volume of sand deposits in various borrow areas, future potential borrow area, marine habitats and protected regions, sensitive environmental areas, future reclamation project outlines, future estimated sand requirements. This chart will act as an effective and powerful tool for the decision makers while implementing and planning of future projects for the development of Kingdom of Bahrain. 2. Reduction in Project costs:- With the ready to refer data available on the sand resources, the project costs were estimated in a better way. The authorities can now allot most favourable borrow area for each project taking into consideration the proximity of the area to the project, quantity and quality of the sand required, access of dredgers etc. The instances of abandoning a project half way through due to lack of resources can be avoided with this data base and thereby ensure economic growth of the Kingdom of Bahrain. 3. Updation of Navigational Charts:- during the sand search survey the bathymetric information using a multibeam echosounder was also collected. This information is very vital to the updating of Navigational charts. More than 80% of Bahrain’s import/export is through sea and hence the accurate and updated navigational charts are a must for its continued economic growth. 4. Additional Data:- during the conduct of survey additional marine data such as water temperature, salinity, conductivity, wind speed, wave heights etc were collected. This data is useful for analyzing the marine habitats and fish populations etc. The data is vital to the Marine Resources directorate for efficient protection of marine resources. 5. Professional growth and development:- SLRB as a whole team gained tremendously from this projects. The people behind this project have become a seasoned professional in the professional tasks as well as project management. The lessons learnt from the project will be a guideline for SLRB in undertaking any future project. The success of this project will give confidence and the determination to undertake nay challenging projects in future.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
Answer: There were three ways put in place in this initiative to monitor progress and evaluate the activities. Automatic Identifier System (AIS): It is a small device that would be installed on each dredging ship. Basically, the device is a GPS tracker that would let subcommittee map the track of the ship at all times. Creating a Sub Committee “ Monitory and Control”: In this project, the Governance committee had created a subcommittee that would take the responsibility of the monitoring and controlling the dredging activities; and make sure that dredgers is following the law. SLRB Pre/Post Surveys and random Check Surveys: By using the same device as mention before “sub bottom profiler” SLRB can conduct a post survey to check whether the amount of sand that was dredged is as same as what had agreed on.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Answer: Since sand search is an entirely marine project the weather plays a crucial role in the conduct of the project. The weather in this part of Gulf allows only about 100 days of good weather window for the conduct of survey in a year. However a well-planned survey operation combined with a fairly accurate weather forecast ensures smooth conduct of the survey. The sub bottom survey requires about 2 days’ time to process one days data. Hence maximum data collection is planned on the fair weather days and the data processing is done on days when the boat is not able to carry out survey operations. This way the time was used effectively. The survey operations are conducted with the latest survey equipment available in the market. However no such companies or distributers are located in Bahrain and hence immediate support for maintenance or break down were not available. SLRB had annual maintenance contract with authorised dealers located in UAE for major equipment. In house training on the first line maintenance of the equipment ensured smooth running of the equipment during the survey. Also the maintenance schedules were planned in such a way that it was carried out during the rough weather seasons when no survey was possible. Coordination between various stakeholders was very difficult as different departments have varied work culture and interests. However the Ministerial order issued by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain ensured cooperation and data sharing between different government organization under the umbrella of Governance committee. The project proceeded smoothly with the cooperation of various sub committees.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
Answer: On completion of the sand search survey, there will be a National Marine Chart which will be a ready to use tool for the decision makers. All the future projects can be planned depending on the sand resources available near the project site. The Ministry of Housing is committed to construct 40,000 housing units to the citizen in the coming 10 years to meet the shortage of houses in the Kingdom of Bahrain. In order to achieve this commitment the government has to identify suitable area for reclamation and also ensure sufficient quantity of sand for reclamation of land and construction of housing units. In this regard the sand search project has greatly helped the East Sitra project where a number of housing units would be built. This project has identified a very suitable sand resources area close to the project site. Therefore the project cost was reduced and the government was able to start the project faster. The completion of East Sitra project will have a positive impact on the public as many people who are waiting for their houses will have their own houses soon. The availability of natural resources to undertake various projects has a positive impact on the prospective private investors in the Kingdom of Bahrain. This can attract more private investors to undertake different projects. These projects will intern create more job opportunities in the Kingdom and reduce the unemployment rates. Thereby the citizens will have a better standard of living in the future.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
Answer: FINANCIAL This project was initially funded out of the government budget with the caveat that this project had to become self-sustaining by 2018. SOCIAL After finishing the reclamation which will allow for a new businesses to start in Bahrain, thus more jobs will be available for its citizen. Moreover, this project will help the ministry of Housing for their housing projects which would also benefit the people of this country. ECONOMIC By providing the space for investors to initiate their businesses that would improve the economics of Bahrain. ENVIROMENTAL One of the benefits of the sand search project is to save the marine habitat.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
Answer: one of the many lessons that we learnt is to let the private sectors such as Dredging companies be involved in this project from the very beginning. This will give them enough time to process the new regulation that might be done. The dredging of mina Salman in the 70s was done without a proper coordination with concern agencies (Government and Private). Hence, the underground water table was hit by the dredgers and hence salinity of the water went high. From the previous project it was learned that important resources such as sand is not to be misused e.g. in dredging mina Khalifa the dredge material was not utilized for the government reclamation project.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Survey & Land Registration Bureau
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Rashid Alsuwaidi
Title:   Director, Hydrographic Survey Directorate  
Telephone/ Fax:   +973-17810011, +973-36303038
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Hydrographic Survey Directorate, Bldg - 139, Road - 42, Block No: 343
Postal Code:  

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