Bridge linking Bahrain, Qatar to go ahead

Long-planned 40-km causeway will be built and the cost may need to be lowered - Bahrain foreign minister
Bridge linking Bahrain, Qatar to go ahead
BRIDGE BENEFIT: The bridge would help Qatar manage heavy traffic during the World Cup as nearby Bahrain could absorb some of the tourist inflow in its hotels (Getty Images)
By Neeraj Gangal
Thu 13 Jan 2011 04:19 PM

A long-planned 40-kilometre

causeway linking Qatar, set to host soccer's 2022 World Cup, and

the Gulf Arab island state of Bahrain will be built and the cost

may need to be lowered, Bahrain's foreign minister said.

"It is a must for both countries, even without the World

Cup," Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa told reporters on

Thursday, without giving a time-frame for the project.

"This is one economic market, one economic zone that should

be well-connected, and the bridge is an integral part of that

... It is inevitable," he said.

Sources close to the project had said in June it would be

delayed due to escalating costs and political wrangling between

the countries.

Qatar's successful bid to host the World Cup may have

provided new momentum. The bridge would help Qatar manage heavy

traffic during the World Cup as nearby Bahrain could absorb some

of the tourist inflow in its hotels.

Qatar plans to spend over $50 billion in infrastructure,

including roads, commercial projects and airports ahead of the

World Cup.

Sheikh Khalifa said pricing for the project, which will be

split 50-50, would need to be reviewed, as the initial cost was

set before the global economic crisis.

"The question is when, and at what cost ... It was initially

priced at $3 billion, but we are trying to bring it down."

A joint Bahrain-Qatar committee meeting will take place next

month, and progress will be discussed then, he said.

The causeway linking the world's top liquefied natural gas

(LNG) exporter Qatar to Bahrain was set to play a key role in

improving infrastructure connections between members of the Gulf

Cooperation Council (GCC), but has been beset by problems.

Tensions were stoked last year over Bahrain's nominee for

Secretary General for the six-state GCC, Mohammad al-Mutawa.

Mutawa played an influential role in Bahrain's territorial

dispute with Qatar over the Hawar islands, which the World Court

awarded to Bahrain in 2001.

The bridge project, first announced in 2001, had already

been delayed in 2008 to change the project scope to include

trains, and late last year the countries said work would start

in the first quarter and be completed by 2015.

Contractors for the project include French group Vinci, German company Hochtief, Qatari Diar Real

Estate and Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC).

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