As of next month, the glass doors will slide open to the Spanish-themed, Janabiya-based retail centre El Mercado (“the market” in Spanish).
Right now, you can swing by for a McDonald’s or pop in for a Frutto Gelato, but soon a range of shops and eateries will open for business, many of which are making a Bahrain debut.
Newcomers include European café Maison Mathis, famous US rib joint Wildside Texas BBQ and the New Orleans-born health concept NKD Pizza, as well as Bahrain’s first-ever Anytime Fitness gym. Meanwhile, familiar shops such as UK pharmacy chain Boots and home-grown supermarket anchor Alosra (set to be the largest branch in the country) will also launch there.
Based just off the Shaikh Isa Bin Salman Highway, near the causeway and close to two of the country’s most well-known British schools, El Mercado is conveniently located for residents of Janabiya, Hamala, Budaiya, Jasra and Saar.
“We recognised when we acquired the land in Janabiya that the area had a shortage of services,” Amin Al Arrayed, owning company First Bahrain’s CEO, tells us. “We then identified an opportunity to create a prime retail outlet that would embrace Janabiya’s identity.”
Nearby resident Jenine Sharabi is one of many who are looking forward to it opening. “It will be good not having to go down Saar Road to get groceries anymore,” she tells Time Out. “And being able to walk there when the weather is better.” On the other hand, Saar resident Sara Loch is concerned about how traffic in the area might be affected.
But business owner Shereen Shaltout, whose offices are located just down the road, disagrees. “I think it will be great for the area, giving more jobs to locals and young Bahrainis,” she says. “Also for our work lunches and morning coffee… we won’t get any work done!”