Bahrain is pushing ahead with tourism development plans for a cluster of Gulf islands at the center of a dispute with Qatar that is before the World Court, a newspaper reported Saturday.
The development plans for the Hawar islands are "designed to ensure that the islands become an important pillar of the national economy," said the English-language Gulf Daily News.
It said Bahrain aimed to attract European tourists in the winter season and Gulf visitors during the summer and that it also planned to build nearby artificial islands.
Municipalities and Environment Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa has instructed resort managers to upgrade facilities and increase accommodations, it said.
The newspaper said the number of foreign visitors had risen by 15 percent last year, without giving figures.
On June 29th, the International Court of Justice in The Hague wound up a five-week public hearing into the longstanding territorial dispute between Qatar and Bahrain.
The case focuses on Qatar's claim to the Hawar islands and Fasht al-Dibel rocks, which have been held by Bahrain since the late 1930s, as well as Manama's claim to the Zubara strip on Qatar's west coast.
A World Court verdict is expected in four to six months - MANAMA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)