New £2.4 billion bridge that will connect countries that were once on the brink of war

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun4,2024

A proposed “Friendship bridge” will connect two countries that have had a turbulent relationship since the 1930s.

The bridge is hoped to promote Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economic development and boost integration and strengthen ties between the people of the two countries.

The officially-named Bahrain-Qatar Causeway project is said to cut travel time from five hours to about 30 minutes, over a distance of about 21 miles.

In 2008, the project cost was around £1.8 billion, but today it is said to cost about £2.4 billion.

It will support both road and railway and is seen to be a natural extension of the King Fahd Causeway, a 15.5-mile stretch that connects Khobar, Saudi Arabia, and Al Jasra and Bahrain.

It will also reach 40-metres high and support maritime navigation.

“The proximity of Bahrain to Qatar and the dynamism of both economies make them structurally logical trading partners, and this is reinforced by the warmth of cultural ties between the two nations,” Dr Omar Alubaydli from the Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat) told the Gulf Daily News (GND) in February.

“Building a causeway that links both countries will provide a timely economic boost to both sides, while also improving energy and food security at a time when global trade routes are under strain.”

The journey to this point has been far from straightforward. The project was reportedly first approved in February 2005, at the time to be the longest fixed link in the world, linking Bahrain near Manama to northwest Qatar near Zubarah.

Doha and Manama, the two capitals, were on the verge of war in 1986 over disputed territories, including the Zubura, Janan Islands and Fasht Al-Dibal.

In 2010, Qatari coastguards injured a Bahrain fisherman, reigniting the dispute over the Hawar Islands which had first begun in 1936. This escalated costs and the subsequent diplomatic row stalled the project.

Plans resumed in 2013, when the Bahrain-Qatar Causeway Authority commissioned consultants to review the designs for the 25-mile structure. However, construction still had not started in 2015.

In June, Bahrain officially cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, joining Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. The quartet imposed an illegal air, land and sea blockade, accusing it of creating instability in the region and terrorism and Bahrain gave Qatar’s diplomats 48-hours to leave.

Diplomatic trade and transportation ties were not re-established and resolved again until 2021. In April 2023, diplomatic relations were finally resumed, two years after the Bahrain blockade on Qatar was resolved.

In November 2023, the GDN reported that the project was discussed during a meeting between Bahrain’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister and the Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister at Gudaibiya Palace in Bahrain. Both parties directed the concerned authorities to complete the necessary plans to initiate the implementation of the project.

Then in February this year, the project received a fresh boost when officials from both sides agreed to restructure the board of the project as part of its implementation. This was discussed at the fourth meeting of the Bahrain-Qatari Follow-up Committee held in Manama.

“The meeting discussed topics on its agenda and agreed to restructure the board of directors of the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway in line with the directives of the leaderships of two countries,” said a statement at the time. “The step is expected to have positive outcomes for both nations.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “New £2.4 billion bridge that will connect countries that were once on the brink of war”
  1. Do you think the Friendship bridge will truly strengthen ties between the countries, or could it potentially cause more conflicts?

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