By Rob Corder
A 25 km causeway comprising two bridges will link northwest Saudi Arabia to Egypt's Sinai region.
Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will next week lay the foundation stone for a $1.5 billion bridge project that will link the Kingdom to neighbouring Egypt.
The bridge will link the Sinai region of Egypt, close to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort town, to the northwest of Saudi Arabia near Ras el-Sheikh Humayd.
Two bridges will be built to span the Gulf of Aqaba and Tiran Strait, with Tiran Island used as a halfway point for the 25 km crossing.
It is expected to open in 2012.
The bridge could transform the economies of both Sinai and the northwest of Saudi Arabia, with the tourism sector receiving a particular boost.
The Gulf of Aqaba is one of the best scuba diving sites in the world, thanks to its stunning coral reefs.
Sham el-Sheikh is already a popular beach resort, but the bridge could make it a weekend destination for Saudi Arabians in the same way that Bahrain is for residents in the Eastern Province.
Saudi Arabia has recently also announced only last week that it would build an Economic City in the northwest of the Kingdom.
In all, six Economic Cities are being developed throughout Saudi Arabia, along with industrial complexes and infrastructure including railways, expanded airports and roads.