With 30 years experience designing award-winning International Airport lounges for the world’s major airlines, TMD was invited by Bahrain Airport Company to participate in a design competition with a select group of international firms specialising in airport lounge design. This was our opportunity to take airport lounge design to a new level.

After accepting BAC’s invitation, Tony approached Ed Bakos of Champalimaud Design New York and convinced him to join forces with TMD to participate in the competition. A third partner – dwp (Design Worldwide Partnership) – was also enlisted, potentially to provide support with documentation and on-site management from their office in Bahrain.

The objective of the competition was to select a design team to develop a world-class lounge concept for Bahrain International Terminal’s upgrade project, a US$1.1 billion investment in the future of Bahrain. Gulf Air (the national carrier for Bahrain) would have its own dedicated space, and a second lounge would service all other major international airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, Lufthansa, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Turkish Airlines, and Saudia, as well as a number of smaller regional airlines.

As a team, our mission was to create the winning design concept for the combined airlines lounge. The competition was managed by the Bahrain Tender Board and the Bahrain Airport Company to ensure that all aspects were conducted with absolute integrity. Over the course of the competition we were required to produce three different schemes, and finally, after a year of hard work, our concept was chosen as the winner of the competition, securing us the prestigious contract.

BAC’s vision was to host ALL airline customers, not aligned with one specific airline brand. We agreed that the lounge would be a high-quality environment with a refined atmosphere, catering to Business and First Class customers.

Our design envisaged a series of luxuriously appointed interconnecting lounge spaces immersed in a sophisticated ambiance. Guests would be presented with a varied selection of refreshments, as they wandered through the tranquil, elegant spaces to choose a private spot to relax whilst experiencing the famous Bahraini hospitality.

The Pearl features a series of ten individually crafted rooms, each with their own distinct style, identified as The Central Room, The Tasting Room, The Receiving Room, The Majlis Room, The Parlour, The Drawing Room, The Library, The Sitting Room, The Family Room, and The Games Room.

The rooms are Interspersed with a range of food offerings including à la Carte dining with an open kitchen display in the Tasting and Receiving rooms, a drinks bar in the Library; Arabic coffee and local Middle Eastern delicacies in the Majlis Room, snacks and other offerings in the Parlour Room. There is also an Italian kitchen with a Pizza oven, and a Barista bar serving snacks, tea and coffee, providing customers with an impressive array of food and beverage choices.

We faced a major setback during the initial design phase, when the client decided to switch locations with Gulf Air on the other side of the New Terminal, forcing us to entirely rethink our design. Our lounge layout required a complete reconfiguration to fit the non-identical space. The small 300sqm Arrivals Lounge was also part of the project.

Yates & Partners were brought on board as part of our team to craft the overall identity and branding of the Lounges and to design the stunning guest experience. They were also responsible for coordinating food and beverage services, running staff training, designing the uniforms, and assisting with the set up of budget management systems.

TMD were instrumental in designing the identity signage and the wayfinding system throughout the lounges which was a very complex undertaking incorporating directives in both English and Arabic. The design of custom furniture and light fixtures was another aspect of our scope of works stipulated by the Bahrain Tender Board’s conditions. 

We successfully completed The Pearl lounges on-schedule and within budget, despite various COVID-related complications. but the worldwide pandemic caused travel restrictions, supply issues and staff shortages that delayed the Airport launch for a full year, finally opening to the public on January 28th 2021.

TMD is grateful to the Bahrain Airport Corporation for being a wonderful client who cooperated closely with us to achieve outstanding results. The Pearl Lounge has been certified as a 5-Star Lounge by Skytrax, and is currently ranked #3 on their list of World’s Best Independent Airport Lounges 2022.

‘The Pearl’ is a unique concept that sets a new benchmark for other countries to follow, distinguishing Bahrain as a global leader in luxury airport lounges.