Construction begins on Yemen-Djibouti Bridge [Archives:2008/1177/Local News]

July 31 2008

By: Aqeel Al-Halali
For the Yemen Times

ADEN, July, 29 ) The Middle East Group for Saudi Development has officially begun the construction of the construction of a new hanging bridge joining the African continent to the Arabian peninsula across the Red Sea. There will also be two industrial and tourism-based new cities built on both sides of the bridge, which will cost around US $20 billion to $30 billion.

The declaration came during a celebration organized by the Middle East Group for Saudi Development in Djibouti, which was attended by Djibouti's Prime Minister, Deleita Mohammed Deleita and the chairman of the Middle East Group for Saudi Development, Tariq Bin Laden. According to Saudi Arabia's Al-Watan newspaper, Tariq Bin Laden has bought 1,500 square kilometers in Yemen and 500 square kilometers in Djibouti to start construction on the industrial port cities.

The project will extend from Bab Al-Mandab Strait in Yemen thought Djibouti on the horn of Africa and is expected to take from seven to nine years to complete. The bridge will be nearly 30 kilometers long, comprising of girder and suspension bridge structures and be able to carry a six-lane highway and four light rail lines, as well as water and oil pipelines. The second phase of the construction project will be divided into smaller constructions to make the rest of the bridge's length.

Bin Laden has granted the design and management contract to Noor Al-Medina Construction Company, which is based in California in the United States.

Noor Al-Medina Company in opened the project up to a board of international experts to submit ideas on the design, operation and management of transportation traffic.

The two construction companies said the major role of the project is to develop Yemen and Djibouti's economies and to recast the two countries as centers for global trade. They added that this will have a positive effect on the nearby countries and their residents as well. Bin Laden signed the contract in March, accompanied by representatives from the Noor Al-Medina Company and Djibouti's president, Omar Ismail Jila.

Tariq Bin Laden said the project will provide more than a million job opportunities in Yemen and half a million in Djibouti.

It is anticipated that about 100,000 cars and 50,000 rail passengers will cross the bridge daily in addition to thousands of tons of cargo in trucks and rail wagons, according to Muhammad Ahmed Al-Ahmed, CEO of Al-Noor Holding Company

Observers believe that the project will enhance the commercial exchange between the Arab Peninsula and countries in the Horn of Africa. The bridge will also help millions of African Hajjis get to Saudi Arabia for the pilgrimage, as well as facilitate the transport of agriculture and livestock from the African continent to the Gulf region's markets.