Qatar and Bahrain Revive Plans for The Construction of The Stalled Multibillion Friendship Bridge

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In November of 2023, plans to establish the Friendship Bridge were enlivened during Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Bin Jassim Al-Thani, Qatar’s minister of foreign affairs and the Prime Minister’s tour to the Kingdom of Bahrain in Manama.

There was an agreement reached recently to restructure the board of directors of both nations’ shared bridge by the Qatari-Bahraini Follow-up Committee. They also agreed to make the necessary decisions regarding the project’s implementation during the meeting.

The Qatari side of the committee was led by Ahmed bin Hassan Al Hammadi. He is the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The recent meeting marks the fourth one held by the follow up committee members.

It is said that the main topic that was discussed during the recent meeting was reviving the long-awaited Friendship Bridge project. The board restructuring move is seen as a positive development by both Qatar and Bahrain as well as meeting their inhabitant’s aspirations.  

The Friendship Bridge project was first announced close to two decades ago. It was meant to ease travel between the two nations, linking Bahrain to Qatar’s northwestern coast.

The cost of establishing the Friendship Bridge

The project is estimated to cost $3 billion, with traveling time reduced from 5 hours to 30 minutes. It will boost trade among the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Why Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt decided to end ties with Qatar

Construction work on the Friendship Bridge was halted in 2017 when Bahrain chose to side with Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt in cutting ties with Qatar. At the time, Qatar was accused of supporting terrorist activities. The countries imposed land, sea as well as illegal air blockades on Qatar. 

With the crisis coming to an end in 2021, it took time for ties between Qatar and Bahrain to be re-established. This came after the inking of the Al-Ula Declaration in Saudi Arabia. Outstanding issues, which had existed since 2017, were discussed by Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman Al Khalifa and Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar, in January 2023. 

A rendered image showing the Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge.

The Bahrain-Qatar Causeway Authority also commissioned consultants who would review the designs of the facility. The bridge spans 40 kilometers, and is expected to be the longest bridge built by man.

Positives expected from the project’s establishment

The bridge is one of the key strategic projects initiated to promote GCC economic development. It will bolster relationships between the two countries along with pacing up GCC integration.

Bahrain and Qatar are structurally partners in trading due to their proximity and the dynamism of both economies. According to Dr Omar Alubaydli, director of Bahrain Centre for Strategic, International and Energy Studies (Derasat), studies and research the two nations are driven by their warm cultural ties.

The bridge, according to him, providing the link between the two nations will facilitate timely economic boost. It will also enhance both energy and food security even when global routes are strained. Both Bahrain and Qatar gave directives to the authorities concerned to take the necessary steps to commence the project’s execution. 

The meeting was also attended by Sheikh Abdullah bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Political Affairs in Bahrain.

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