A Saudi official indicated Friday the kingdom was moving forward with a plan to dig a canal that would turn the neighboring Qatari peninsula into an island.
"I am impatiently waiting for details on the implementation of the Salwa island project, a great, historic project that will change the geography of the region," Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said.
The plan, which would physically separate the Qatari peninsula from the Saudi mainland, is the latest stress point in a highly fractious 14-month-long dispute between the two states.
In April, the pro-government Sabq news website reported government plans to build a channel – 60 kilometers (38 miles) long and 200 meters wide – stretching across the kingdom's border with Qatar.
Part of the canal, which would cost up to 2.8 billion riyals ($750 million), would be reserved for a planned nuclear waste facility, it said.
Five unnamed companies that specialize in digging canals had been invited to bid for the project and the winner will be announced in September, Makkah newspaper reported in June.
Saudi Arabia, backed by regional states including Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, broke off relations with Qatar in June last year, accusing the Gulf state of supporting radical groups and of being too close to Iran — Riyadh's arch rival in the region.
The neighboring countries cut Qatar's air, sea and land routes – creating a de facto blockade – and vowed to isolate Qatar economically until it heeds their demands.
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