Saudi border guards have taken control of the Salwa crossing, which effectively cuts Qatar’s only terrestrial link with the outside world.
The customs and passports departments have vacated the crossing and handed over the control to the guards. The move might be an indication that a project to dig a tourism and commercial waterway alongside the 60km border between Saudi Arabia and Qatar could start earlier than predicted.
The canal would stretch from Salwa to Khor Al Adeed, and would be 200 metres wide and 15 to 20 metres deep, allowing ships up to 295 metres long and 33 wide to navigate it.
Several resorts with private beaches in Salwa, Sakak, Khor Al Adeed and two in Ras Abu Qamees are also being planned. Seaports will be built in Salwa and in Aqlat Al Zawayed and will complement the one in Ras Abu Qamees.
Marinas for yachts and water sports will be built on the two banks of the canal, making it one of the most attractive in the Gulf region.
The project is estimated to cost around SR2.8 billion and, if approved, could start within a year. According to reports, the canal will be inside Saudi territory, making it fully Saudi, and will be about one kilometre from the official border with Qatar.
The plan will be submitted to concerned entities, including the Ministry of Defence and the Border Police. The project will be backed by Saudi and UAE private investors, along with Egyptian companies with expertise in digging would help with the construction of the canal.
A Saudi military base will be established in the one kilometre which will separate the Salwa waterway from Qatar, while the remainder will be converted into a waste dump for the Saudi nuclear reactor, which Riyadh plans to build according to best practices and global environmental requirements.