The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Bridging Sinai and Saudi Arabia

This is an interesting project:

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will next week lay the foundation stone for a $1.5 billion bridge project that will link the Kingdom to neighbouring Egypt.

The bridge will link the Sinai region of Egypt, close to the Sharm el-Sheikh resort town, to the northwest of Saudi Arabia near Ras el-Sheikh Humayd.

Two bridges will be built to span the Gulf of Aqaba and Tiran Strait, with Tiran Island used as a halfway point for the 25 km crossing.

While I generally think that more infrastructure is badly needed to support inner-Arab trade, I actually don't think this will immediately do much good to South Sinai's economy, which is relatively well-off thanks to its tourism resorts. (It would be the North around El Arish that needs development.) This giant project is likely to destroy more of its precious coral riffs, and certainly means more trucks shipping goods from the Kingdom to Cairo, polluting the air and further damaging already bad roads.

There are also talks between Yemen and Djibouti, by the way, to connect their countries via a bridge as well. This one is planned to carry a railway connection, which definitely should have been contemplated in case of the Sinai bridge as well. But I guess ENR is too busy with repairing all its switches and electrifying its tracks.