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Egypt and Saudi Arabia are working on a plan to construct a 32-kilometer (22 miles) bridge spanning the Gulf of Aqaba, that would connect the two countries, according to Spiegel Online.Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) investment funds and private companies are expected to finance the bridge that would help commuters travel the distance in 22 minutes, according to Arab News. It is expected to connect Ras Nasrani, near the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Ras Hamid in northwestern Saudi Arabia.
The bridge would be used for road and rail traffic and is expected to cost $5 billion and would be an alternative for the 1.5 million Egyptians and 750,000 Saudis that visit both countries every year.
In geopolitical terms, the bridge could reshape the future of Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa, since it would boost connectivity between Arab states. The project had originally been discussed in 1988, but former Egyptian-President halted construction plans for the bridge after Israel protested, citing security concerns. The new bridge would circumvent Israeli territory connecting Arabs states directly and could weaken Israel’s position in the region.
Bilateral trade between the countries already exceeds $3.5 billion annually and is expected to go up with the new trade route. Both countries have now commissioned new studies for the bridge across the Red Sea which is expected to provide a boost to Egypt’s flagging government.
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