Gulf | General

Saudi proposes plan to dig Strait of Hormuz bypass

Proposed "Arab canal" would put an end to threats to seal off the strategic waterway

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 11:10 April 9, 2013
  • Gulf News

A map of canal locations to bypass the Strait of Hormuz
  • Image Credit: Al Riyadh
  • A map of canal locations to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, as proposed by a Saudi national.

Manama: A Saudi national has proposed digging a canal that would allow ships and tankers to bypass the Strait of Hormuz.

The canal, with a length of between 60 and 100 kilometres, would link the Arabian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and would end reliance on the Strait of Hormuz, said Sami Al Muhaidab.

According to reports, an average of 14 tankers per day passed out of the Arabian Gulf through the Strait in 2011, carrying 17 million barrels of crude oil, representing 35 per cent of the world's seaborne oil shipments and 20 per cent of oil traded worldwide.

However, tension, mainly between Iran and the US, has often caused Tehran to threaten that it would seal off the Strait of Hormuz.

“As a Gulf national, I am keen on the interests and stability of the Arabian Gulf countries,” Sami said. “I consider this proposal to have a purely Arab canal as a solution to the long-standing issue resulting from the Iranian threats to shut down the Strait of Hormuz and stifle maritime activities whenever there is tension between Tehran and world military powers,” he said, quoted by Saudi daily Al Riyadh.

All Arab Gulf countries should be involved in the mega-project that would allow them to bypass the Strait of Hormuz, the only existing sea passage from the Arabian Gulf to the open ocean, Sami said.

“The length of the canal could vary between 60 and 100 kilometres according to the location to be decided by experts,” he said.

“The project can become a reality, especially that the Arab Gulf countries have much greater and better possibilities than the people who built the Suez canal in 1859 and completed it in 1869. While it took ten years to complete the 193-kilometre Suez Canal, digging in the 21st century a much shorter canal to bypass the Strait of Hormuz should take a limited period of time,” he said.

The Suez Canal, the artificial sea-level waterway running north to south across the Isthmus of Suez in Egypt to connect the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, is 193km long, 24 metres deep and 205 metres wide.

The canal, one of the world's most heavily used shipping lanes, consists of the northern access channel (22 kilometres), the canal itself (162.250 kilometres)  and the southern access channel (nine kilometres).

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