A causeway linking the UAE to Qatar was announced yesterday, but no timetable was given for the project.

The announcement was made at a joint press conference by Shaikh Mohammad Bin Mubarak Al Khalifa, Bahrain Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, and Abdul Rahman Bin Hamad Al Attiyah, GCC Secretary-General, after the 25th GCC summit in Manama.

The announcement came as President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan began a 2-day fraternal visit to Qatar.

Travellers between the two countries must now go through the Saudi Arabian desert for 125km before entering Qatar at Salwa.

There has been a substantial increase in traffic between the UAE and Qatar via Saudi Arabia. Vehicles leave the UAE via Al Ghuwaifat and travel to Al Bat'ha in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi section of the road from Abu Dhabi to Doha is currently a two-lane single carriageway that runs along the coastline at some points.

"Hundreds of vehicles travel between the two countries every week. The proposed bridge will make the journey to Doha much safer.

"I might be able to complete it in 4 hours instead of the 12 hours it takes now," said Yousef Kayali, a resident of Abu Dhabi who travels to Doha every month to visit his parents.

Another Abu Dhabi resident, who has a brother in Dammam, said the bridge would ease travel woes.

"Bahrain is already linked with Saudi Arabia through the King Fahd causeway, while Qatar and Bahrain are planning to build a causeway linking the two countries ... The new link is great news since it will allow direct traffic between the four countries," he said.

Sahar Bsata, a Doha-based engineer, said the causeway between the UAE and Qatar would further foster fraternal relations.

"The causeway will allow women to drive to Qatar without passing through Saudi Arabia, which bans women drivers," she said.

Samir Talee, a UAE-based civil engineer, said the project would be of strategic importance as it was in line with the integration drive between GCC countries.

In the press conference, Shaikh Mohammad said the bridge between Qatar and Bahrain would be constructed soon.

Last month, Bahrain and Qatar invited international bids to build the $1.8 billion (Dh6.6 billion) causeway.

GCC transport ministers met in October to study the establishment of a high speed inter-Gulf railway that will link all GCC states.