Manama, Asharq Al-Awsat—Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have announced plans to construct a second cross-sea bridge linking the two Gulf kingdoms.
The announcement was made following a meeting on Friday in Jeddah between the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, and Bahrain’s King, Sheikh Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa.
Bahrain’s Minister of Transportation Kamal Bin Ahmad told Asharq Al-Awsat the 15-mile-long (25-kilometer-long) bridge will run parallel to the King Fahd Causeway—the existing bridge linking the two countries—but will, in addition to a lane for cars, also include two rail lines: one for passengers and another for cargo.
He said the new bridge would be named the King Hamad Bridge, after Bahrain’s monarch, a “generous gesture” from King Abdullah as a sign of the continued friendship and cooperation between the two countries.
He added that the Saudi and Bahraini ministries of transport and finance, as well as the King Fahd Causeway Authority—the joint Saudi–Bahraini body overseeing the bridge—had carried out, alongside an outside consulting firm, initial technical and environmental studies for the project last July.
Construction is expected to begin in the coming months, he said, with the project expected to be completed in 2018, and the rail portion of the bridge eventually becoming part of a planned rail network connecting all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states, which in addition to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia also include Kuwait, the UAE, Qatar and Oman.
Speaking of this project, Ahmad said it was still in its early stages, but that steps for beginning work “on the ground” would be discussed during the next meeting of GCC transport ministers.
The project aims to link all GCC countries from Kuwait’s capital in the north to the Omani capital Muscat in the south.
Each member state will be responsible for construction work within its own borders, with all states cooperating to link their part of the network with the others.
The 1,350-mile-long (2,170-kilometer-long) network will run from Kuwait City in the north to Dammam in Saudi Arabia, then to the Qatari capital Doha, then to Bahrain’s capital Manama and the UAE cities of Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain, and finally to Sohar and then Muscat in Oman.