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Saudi waterway to turn Qatar into island

UAE minister says potential creation of canal is an indicator of Qatar’s failure to resolve the crisis

Gulf News
The proposed canal will turn Qatar into an island, erasing the land border between the two Gulf states

Manama: Qatar, a peninsular country, could be turned into an island if a plan by Gulf investors to dig a 60 kilometre-long water canal alongside the border with Qatar goes ahead.

The planned canal would stretch from Salwa to Khor Al Adeed would be 200 metres wide and 15 to 20 metres deep, allowing ships up to 295 metres long and 33 wide to navigate it, Saudi news site Sabq reported.

Several resorts with private beaches large hotels in Salwa, Sakak, Khor Al Adeed and two in Ras Abu Qamees are also being planned.

Seaports will be built in Salwa and in Aqlat Al Zawayed and will complement the one in Ras Abu Qamees.

Marinas for yachts and water sports will be built on the two banks of the canal, making it one of the most attractive in the Gulf region.

The project would cost SR2.8 billion and, if approved, could start within one year.

According to Sabq, the canal will be inside the Saudi territory, making it fully Saudi, and will be about one kilometre from the official boundaries with Qatar.

The plan will be presented to relevant entities, including the Ministry of Defence and the Border Police.

On Sunday, Sabq reported that the project would be funded fully by Saudi and UAE private investors and that Egyptian companies with expertise in digging would help with the construction of the canal.

A Saudi military base will be established on part of the one-kilometre side separating the Salwa water way from Qatar, while the remainder will be converted into a waste dump for the Saudi nuclear reactor, which Riyadh plans to build according to best practices and global environmental requirements.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt on June 5 severed their diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar, accusing it of supporting extremists and funding terrorism.

The Quartet issued a list of 13 demands and asked Qatar to comply with them in order to restore the ties.

However, Doha rejected them. Mediation efforts led by Kuwait have so far failed to achieve a breakthrough.

In the UAE, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash warned Qatar it should carefully reconsider its options.

He said the potential creation of the canal should be an indicator to Qatar of its failure to resolve the crisis.

“Years conspiracy, treachery and backstabbing cannot be erased with the stroke of a pen. Now that the options are clear and serious, it is time for Doha to depart from its state of confusion and look carefully at the principles for the solution and the demands made by the four countries.”

“Pride is not appropriate for those who have betrayed relations, yet, even at this juncture, we call on Doha to choose reason and wisdom,” he said.

“The silence of Doha about the announcement of the canal project reflects fear and confusion. The solution is not in an arrogant attitude that Qatar cannot afford, but rather in good management, rationalisation, wisdom, and a review of a disastrous policy that has isolated Qatar and pushed it in an unenviable position.”

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