• Qatar-Bahrain causeway unlikely, says Bahraini official
  • Saudi Arabia welcomes delays as it looks to consolidate its influence on Manama

The $4bn causeway between Qatar and Bahrain is still on hold and is unlikely to materialise, an official from Bahrain’s Public Works Ministry has confirmed to MEED.

Original designs for the project comprised a 40-kilometre dual carriageway featuring 22km of bridges and viaducts and 18km of embankments and two 400-metre cable-stayed bridges. The causeway will connect Ras Ashairij on the west coast of Qatar to Askar on the east coast of Bahrain.

The project has been hit with several major disruptions, many of which have been rooted in diplomatic complications between Qatar and its GCC neighbours.

In 2010, the consortium set up to lead the project was demobilised.

Further to this have been the political tensions that have erupted between GCC nations, most notably Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

A member of the Bahrain’s ministry of public works tells MEED that the Saudi’s are keen on ensuring the shelving of this project to further consolidate the kingdoms influence on Manama.

As such, plans for the second causeway connecting Bahrain and Saudi Arabia seem to be on track and the proposition of incorporating both a rail and road link on the bridge seems more likely, with the possibility of building a third causeway that would be used exclusively by trucks also being considered.

Following unrest in 2011 and more recently with the fall in oil prices, GCC funds, primarily from Saudi Arabia, are likely to spur Bahrain’s growth as its economy faces an uncertain period.

The GCC support is being led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait in what seems to be a political move to ensure the stabilisation of Manama.

Following its recent military campaign in Yemen, Riyadh will be looking to focus on Bahrain’s development in order to avoid a repeat of street protests led by the country’s Shia population in 2011.

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