The $20bn first phase of the planned Yemen-Djibouti Causeway is delayed until the two governments sign the framework agreement.

“In order for us to move forward with our project we need the government of Yemen and the government of Djibouti to sign a framework agreement,” says Mohammed al-Ahmed, chief executive officer of the project client, Dubai-based Al-Noor Holding Investment Company.

“We are waiting for them to sign it or ask to discuss it. The [framework agreement] will give us the concession and the right to build the two cities and the bridge,” Al-Ahmed says.

Al-Noor submitted a framework agreement to both governments in December 2009. Al-Ahmed says the delay was due to the crisis in Yemen and he now expects the agreement to be signed soon.

The crossing will be the first bridge to link the Arabian peninsula with the African continent. Denmark’s Cowi has drawn up a preliminary design for the 28.5-kilometre bridge.

When the frame work agreement was given to the government Al-Ahmed said that he expected to award a build-operate-transfer contract for the first phase of the bridge in the second half of 2010 and that three companies had express interest in funding and building the road and rail link (MEED 9:12:09).

The first phase of construction will involve building the link between the Yemeni mainland to the island of Perim in the Red Sea. Phase two will then connect Perim with Djibouti.

The wider project also involves building two cities, at either end of the link. The total investment required for the construction of the cities and the bridge is $200bn. Al-Ahmed says Al-Noor has already invested an undisclosed amount of its own money in the scheme and remains optimistic that finance will be available to fund the entire project.