Saudi Arabia plans to completely cut off Qatar from the mainland by building a new maritime channel along the border, Saudi Arabian newspaper Arab News reported on Friday.
The plan, which will create 60 kilometers of waterways between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, is to be completed within a year. According to Saudi media, this project aims to develop tourism as the area provides vital connections for the other Gulf countries.
According to the report, the maritime channel, starting from Salwa to Khawr Al-Udayd, will be 200 meters wide, 15-20 meters deep, and 60 km in length. The project, which will have an initial cost of approximately SR 2.8 billion ($746.67 million), is waiting for official approval.
The move came amid the ongoing dispute between Qatar and other countries in the region. Qatar has been under siege since early June when the UAE, Saudi Arabia and its other neighbors severed ties over claims the small, gas-rich monarchy was funding terrorism, disrupting Gulf unity and fomenting opposition across the region. They cut Qatar's air, sea and land routes, creating a de facto blockade. The countries vowed to isolate Qatar economically until it heeds their demands.But Qatar, which has denied supporting or funding terror groups, has insisted it can survive indefinitely on its own. The crisis, according to Qatari officials, was triggered nearly a year ago when hackers took over their state-run news agency and posted fabricated comments attributed to Qatar's ruler that called Iran an "Islamic power" and said Qatar's relations with Israel were "good." Qatari officials who investigated the attack didn't pinpoint who was responsible, but they said media in the UAE appeared ready and prepared to report the fabricated remarks once the site was hacked.
Lately, the Trump administration has postponed until September a summit with Gulf Arab leaders that had been planned for this spring amid an ongoing dispute between Qatar and other U.S. allies. The delay is a nod to the fact that Washington has made little progress so far in ending the bitter standoff between Qatar and other Gulf nations, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to Reuters. Trump met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the White House on March 21. He is due to meet with Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al Thani next week, followed by a meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed.
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