The Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge: The Longest Bridge in the World
At a planned 40 kilometres or 24.85 miles the Qatar-Bahrain bridge will be the longest bridge in the world when it is built, beating even the new 22 mile Ningbo-Shanghai bridge in China. Not bad, considering not so long ago the two countries came close to having a war...
Look at a map of the world, and Qatar and Bahrain are so close that you would assume there was a ferry crossing between the two gulf countries. In fact, there is no way to enter the country except for a round trip through Saudi.
This causes difficulties for non-GCC nationals as obtaining visas for Saudi Arabia can be problematic. However this lack of access may finally be coming to a close with a plans for a bridge to link the two countries together.
The Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge has been planned for many years, but talks and plans have been moving ahead in recent months. Work is now planned to commence after a further nine months of studies, and should be completed in 51 months.
This bridge is a great step for two countries which have often been on the verge of war. In fact, the very start of Qatar as a nation was marked by an attack by Bahrain on Qatar which destroyed Doha and Al Wakra.
At the time the Khalifa ruling family regarded the Qatar towns as vassels, which had to be punished after failing to pay tribute. However, the British, whose trading was disrupted by the raids, were not amused. A meeting followed with the headman of Doha, who just happened to be an Al Thani, and Qatar was placed under the protection of the British.
Tensions continued in the twentieth century.The islands between Bahrain and Qatar were disputed and Bahrain continued to claim parts of Qatar. In fact, Al Zubara fort was built in the 1930's to protect Qatar's bare Northern coast, and the population of some villages in this area, whose loyalty was suspect, were relocated and the buildings left behind blown up.
In 1986 the countres came to close to war after shots were fired by Qatar gunboats when Bahrain started to build up a disputed reef, and the Qataris took several prisoners. Finally, the case was brought to the Hague in 1991. A mere 10 years later the court came to a decision, giving Bahrain the Hawar Islands but ruling out any claim to the Qatar mainland. (See the Qatar-Bahrain dispute for a detailed review of the case.)
Since then relations between Bahrain and Qatar have warmed - to the extent, obviously, that they are now considering this mammoth project. In fact, the project is barely viable from an economic point of view, with an estimated daily use of just 6000 cars according to the pre-feasibility study, which compares to the ten-fiffteen thousand which use the Saudi Arabian causeway every day. From a political point of view, though, it is well worth it: it will cement ties with Bahrain - and make Dubai green with envy!
The Bahrain-Qatar bridge, at 40 kilometres long, will be the longest bridge in the world, and it is estimated that it will take over four years to complete. The cause way will begin in Raas Asheerj, close to Al Zubara fort, and end in the North Askar area in Bahrain, and will act as an extension to the King Fahd causeway that connects Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Due to its length, the causeway will not consist of a single bridge but of a number of roads on a total of 14 km of dams connected by 22 of bridges and viaducts over deep water. This will include two 400-metre cable stayed bridges over shipping channels. There are also plans for a central island.
Currently a trip to Bahrain take sin the region of five hours, and involve a trip via Saudi Arabia. The new journey should take around half an hour.
The initial projected costs were estimated at 2 billion US dollars. However, a new plan to add a railway to the bridge is currently being studied. These plans, if carried out, will add another 5 billion dollars to the final cost.