Saudi Arabia and Egypt will discuss plans to build a 32-kilometer (20-mile) bridge to link the two countries, allowing motorists from either side to cross over in just 22 minutes.
A meeting in Jeddah next month between officials from both states will discuss a re-launch of the project after the former Egyptian government had shunned earlier talks about a bridge.
Studies on financial cost and technical feasibility of the project will be launched and the findings will be submitted to officials of the two countries, according to Abdullah Dahlan, chairman of the Saudi-Egyptian Business Council.
He said that the bridge project will be financed by GCC investment funds and the private sector.
The 32-kilometer bridge would link the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, near the Sharm El Sheikh resort, to Ras Hamid in western Saudi Arabia.
The former Egyptian government had refused implementation of the project before in 2006 for reasons unpublicized. At the time, observers had said the project “never really left the drawing board,” despite it being technically feasible. Architects said that the bridge would be a viable length and the relatively shallow sea in its area allows for such a construction.
A bridge would also assist between 50,000 to 70,000 Egyptians who go on the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca and an estimated 1.2 million Egyptians working in Saudi Arabia or in other Gulf countries.
(Eman El-Shenawi, a writer at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)