Salwa Crossing with Qatar Image Credit: Al Marsad

Manama: Saudi Arabia’s border guards have taken control of the Salwa crossing, effectively cutting off Qatar’s only terrestrial link with the outside world.

The customs and passports departments evacuated the crossing and handed over the control of the crossing to the Border Guards, Saudi news site Sabq said, one day after it reported that orders had been given to station them alongside the borders.

The move could signify that work on the ambitious project to dig a tourism and commercial waterway alongside the 60km border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar could start earlier than predicted.

The planned canal would stretch from Salwa to Khor Al Adeed, and 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 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 Saudi territory, making it fully Saudi, and will be about one kilometre from the official border with Qatar.

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

Sabq said the project will 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 in the one kilometre separating the Salwa waterway 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 UAE 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 ties.

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