The proposed multi-billion dollar Qatar-Bahrain causeway project has run into rough weather due to escalating costs and is now expected to be ready only a little before the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The cost of the project, according to Bahrain, soared in the aftermath of the world financial turbulence so it has been referred for a review. “After the onset of the world financial crisis we discovered that the cost of the project was very high, so we are reviewing the project and waiting for its findings,” Bahrain’s foreign minister has said.
The question now is what the cost of the project would be, and when the work would begin, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said in an interview to Al Sharq.
Speaking on the sidelines of GCC foreign ministers’ meeting in Manama, Sheikh Khalid said Qatar had already listed the causeway project as part of mega 2022-linked development projects. “So the causeway will, of course, see the light of day.”
But only a little before the 2022 World Cup, he hinted.
The foreign minister said that the uprising Bahrain witnessed was actually a move to topple its monarchy and replace it with a republic, and accused neighboring Iran of being behind the conspiracy.
Tehran, he said, was under pressure due to the Syrian crisis and was trying to deflect attention. Sheikh Khalid also blamed some international forces and organizations, as well as “individuals in Iraq”, and said they were trying to soil his country’s image by spreading propaganda that the uprising was genuine and the government in Manama was acting in a repressive manner.
Bahraini people have always been demanding constitutional rights but never before have they made a call for replacing the monarchy, he said.
Talking about the proposed GCC Union, he said the priority of the member-countries at this stage was to finalise mechanisms for defence cooperation since a neighbouring country (a veiled reference to Iran) had a nuclear programme.
“We don’t know its aim yet and we don’t know what type of technology is being used. And even if we presume that the programme is for peaceful purposes, a nuclear plant could lead to crises and we could be the victims,” said Sheikh Khalid.
Talking of the proposed GCC union, he suggested that it was too early to discuss details openly. There is an 18-member committee that has three members each from the six GCC countries which is working out details.
The committee has sub-panels like one looking into economic integration, the other military cooperation.
Sheikh Khalid said that within a year or two economic integration plans among the GCC states would take a concrete shape and that would be the basis of further cooperation among the member states.
(Jaber Al Harami is Editor-in-Chief of Al Sharq Arabic daily)
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