Saudi Arabia and Egypt will go ahead with a US$3bn causeway project linking the two countries together, in a move to improve economic and social relations, reported London-based newspaper al-Hayat, citing a government official.
A technical committee will meet towards the end of September to discuss the initial steps of the project, Egyptian Transportation Minister Mohammed Rashad was quoted as saying.
The proposed 32km causeway will start from Ras Nassrani in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, passing by Tiran Strait before reaching Ras Hamid near Tabuk in northern Saudi Arabia. Rashad said that the that the project will not only help facilitate trade between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, but also the wider Levant region.
A causeway between the two countries has been mooted in the past but had been sidelined due to politics. However, the project is now back on track following a meeting between newly-elected Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and Saudi ruler King Abdullah, added Rashad.
The bridge will benefit the two countries by facilitating the movement of trade and people, especially in the religious seasons of Hajj and Umrah, he said.
In March, Hussain Omran, chairman of the foreign trade department at the Egyptian Ministry of Commerce, said that a causeway between the two countries would increase trade by more than 300 percent from US$4.2bn annually to more than US$13bn in two years.
Dr Hisham Zaazoua, senior assistant to the Egyptian Tourism Minister, says the number of Saudi tourists to Egypt could soar to more than 1.2m, compared to the current 300,000 per year.
Dr Zaazoua added that the causeway will help in promoting intra-Arab tourism between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. The region South of Sinai could see a significant economic recovery, especially during the Islamic pilgrimage seasons of Hajj and Umrah.