Saudi Arabia’s Salwa Canal
Al-Rai, Jordan, June 20
The construction of a maritime channel to separate Qatar from Saudi Arabia is being examined by authorities in Riyadh, which has already established a bidding deadline for the project. Over five international companies have thus far submitted proposals for the tender, vying for the right to complete the 12-month-long project. The channel, known as the Salwa Canal, is designed to be 60 kilometers in length, 200 meters in width, and 20 meters in depth. If established, it would turn Qatar into a de facto island, surrounded by nothing but water and a 1-kilometer-long stretch of Saudi territory that will host a military base and a nuclear waste site. The proposed project comes in the wake of turbulent times in the Arab Gulf, following the GCC-imposed boycott on Qatar in 2017. Now, over a year later, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are looking for new ways to further sever ties with Doha, by establishing a physical barrier between Qatar and the rest of the Arab world. The Salwa project, which is expected to cost over $750 million, will be financed by private investors in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, with the help of Egyptian drilling companies. With air and land routes leading to Qatar already closed off, this newest project poses a dangerous threat to the Qatari economy. For Qatar, losing all access to the mainland will increase pressure on the government to accept the GCC’s demands and abide by Riyadh’s dictates. Yet this project might also escalate the already high tensions along the border between the two countries, where violent clashes have erupted in the past. In an age when people are speaking of building bridges, Riyadh and Doha seem to be focused on digging tunnels of separation. Who knows what this will bring. – Muhammad Fahed
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