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Can Qatar, Bahrain be BFF?
Given their long history of antagonism, Bahrain and Qatar need to build some bridges. Luckily, they’re doing just that, with the planned $3 billion ‘Friendship Bridge’ linking the two Gulf states.
March 15, 2010 4:55 by Ben Flanagan
The bridge will form part of the $15.5 billion GCC-wide rail network, for which construction contractors are currently being shortlisted. The railway project is unique in that it is the first time an international network has been planned from scratch. As Malcolm Cope, rail works design manager for the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway Management, said at the rail summit: “It will be the first time in history that someone has thought about building an international [rail] network from first principles.”
Just as ‘The Friendship Bridge’ will act to promote ties between Bahrain and Qatar, the rail network could itself act to enhance unity in the Gulf Cooperation Council – and beyond.
Yemen – the Arab world’s poorest country, which is not part of the GCC – was not included in the original plans for the GCC rail network. But in October last year it was announced that the railway would extend across the Omani border into Yemen, with the latter’s investment in the rail project predicted to amount to $3.5 billion.
While the GCC countries have good relations with Yemen, the rail network could act to further enhance economic and cultural relations with Sana’a. This could be especially beneficial given the recent focus on Al Qaeda activity in Yemen, following the attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound airliner. The attack was allegedly carried out by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who is believed to have been radicalized in Yemen.
And so, more than one bridge is being built in the Gulf. Perhaps they should call it the ‘Friendship Railway’, too.
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