Construction work on the world's longest marine causeway, a $3 billion (Dh11bn) project, which will link Bahrain and Qatar, has started and is expected to be completed in 2013.
The over 40km twin carriageway, running across 22km of viaducts over the sea and 18km of embankments, will reduce travel time by car between the Gulf countries by about four hours. At its apex it has a cable-stayed bridge with two 400m spans.
Claimed to be the world's longest construction link, the structure – to be built by a Franco-German-Qatari consortium – traverses both deep and shallow water.
"Geological and maritime surveys have already started and the implementation stage will begin soon. The causeway will strengthen Bahrain's position as the best place in the Middle East for companies to develop their businesses across all Gulf Cooperation Council economies," said Shaikh Mohammad bin Essa Al Khalifa, Chief Executive of Bahrain's Economic Development Board.
He said it will be a boost for Bahrain's role as an ideal access point for international companies to develop their business in Gulf economies.
"The Friendship Causeway will strengthen Bahrain's position as the best place in the Middle East for companies to locate in order to develop their businesses across all Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) economies. As a location for international companies, Bahrain is one of the most mature and well established free markets in this rapidly growing economic region".
He said Bahrain has a strong history of working closely with its neighbours and it is already linked by the very successful King Fahad Causeway to Saudi Arabia.
"The completion of this causeway will be a welcome further addition to Bahrain's impressive air, sea and road links, and will provide many new opportunities for companies based in Bahrain to further develop their business, not only in Qatar but right across the GCC," he said.