The Qatar-Bahrain Causeway is a continuously delayed project in the Arabian Gulf region. The project consists of constructing a 40km (25mi) bridge (claimed to be the longest in the world) between the Qatar and Bahrain.
Plans for the construction of the bridge were first made in 2001. The project was approved for construction in 2005, and a formal agreement between the two GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) members was signed in 2006 to form a company, the Qatar and Bahrain Causeway Foundation, that would manage the project. Everything seemed to be on track for the project when it was revealed that construction would begin in 2008 and construction would last four years.
However, a series of events have dramatically delayed the project. The 2008 financial crisis certainly had a toll on the mega project, causing the estimated cost of the project to rise unexpectedly. In 2009, the initial plan to have the bridge accommodate motor vehicles was changed to include a railway as well. The railway itself is part of a GCC-wide railway project. Delaying one critical project can and will have significant effects on the other. Numerous re-designs to the bridge and escalating costs further delayed construction initiation from 2008 to 2011 and then to 2015, with a plan to complete the causeway shortly before the FIFA World Cup 2022 held in Qatar. Of the two countries, Qatar especially needs to manage all the projects they have at hand before hosting the world’s biggest event. This can be achieved by assigning more resources to all their projects, something not too difficult for the rich gulf state.
Politics always play a role when a project involves multiple countries. Bahrain and Qatar have had territorial disputes since the nineteenth century. One case is that of Hawar Islands, a series of islands located between the two countries. In 1939, when both countries were under British rule, London ruled that the islands belonged to Bahrain. Qatar tried to appeal the decision multiple times, only for the other GCC countries to intervene. In 2010, a Bahraini fisherman was found roaming Qatari waters, leading the Qatari coast guard to fire at his vessel. This incident reignited the dispute over the islands of Hawar. The bridge, dubbed the “Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge”, ironically, may never see the light of day if these differences are never settled.
All obstacles and issues aside, the bridge will boost the economies of both countries considerably. Currently, a trip between Bahrain and Qatar can take up to five hours, and involves crossing through Saudi Arabia, which can be problematic for non-GCC nationals trying to obtain a Saudi visa. The new journey will be cut down to less than an hour.
If this project is ever completed, it will be one step closer to unifying the Gulf states as one country–a project of its own that’s been frequently discussed.
Do you think the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway will get completed before the 2022 World Cup, if ever? Is bad project management and estimation to be blamed for the delay of the bridge, or are there other factors?
16 thoughts on “Will the Qatar-Bahrain Causeway Ever See the Light of Day?”
Thank you for an interesting topic which you have briefly discussed. I believe that everything is possible to accomplish in this world but it may take more time, effort or money to accomplish it. “The Qatar-Bahrain Friendship Bridge” can be accomplished if all the disputes were to be put aside and focused all the resources into delivering this project before the FIFA cup, but giving the current political situation and what happened in Bahrain in 2011 it will be extremely difficult to isolate the politics from the project; therefore I think if the project were ever to be accomplished it will be after the FIFA cup. Another point is that Qatar has to have a fixed scope and drawings to start, because the changing of these two factors will make the cost way above expected and might be unworthy of proceeding at all.
Thanks for your interesting post.
Regarding the causeway, i think if we isolate the political situation it can be done but it might need more than the initial estimated budget to complete before FIFA 2022, therefor if the budget couldn’t be increased there will be no chance to increase the resources in order to complete within the time.
Looking in general, this project can’t proceed if there is a political issue it has to solved then that project can see the light.
Thanks for the interesting post.
I believe that the two countries should finish the project before the 2022.
As Qatar should consider Bahrain as a back up plan if a lot of people came to the world cup and they don’t have place to stay.
And Bahrain should consider that it would be easier for many people from Bahrain or Saudi to go to Qatar by cars.
but at the end, politics and projects can’t go along.
Thank you for this interesting post. I believe that that are many factors causing the delay/cancellation of this project. Mainly its due to the political dispute between Bahrain & Qatar which you have briefly discussed. Furthermore, Qatar is fully concentrating on the 2022 FIFA World Cup project which they will be hosting. This project requires plenty of time, concentration, & Budget in order for it to be achieved successfully. on top of that, Qatar is planning to change the idea of building a ‘friendship bridge’ with Bahrain, and instead focus on the GCC railway which will connect most of the neighbouring countries, and will serve as a better transportation solution for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Event.
Thank you for this great post. In my point of view this project will have a lot of benefits to both countries in the short run and in the long run. For example King Fahd Causeway has an average of 100,000 people crossing everyday with a fee of BD 4 coming in and out. Hence, it will have high benefits for both countries financially. Another benefit will be eventually support the FIFA World Cup Event in 2022 in Qatar, as it is expected that to total attendance will be around 3,300,000 people. For a small country like Qatar it will highly beneficial economically and socially. They require a highly dedicated team in order to complete this project as the timeline is very tight due to the project has to be completed before the FIFA World Cup Event. An obstacle that might arise is the political tension between the two countries, that might delay or even cancel the project overall.
I think it’s a great post, as it shows the challenges a project manager might face that it was not anticipated, the biggest is the change in plan. In my opinion this could have been mitigated if the initial plan was addressing all of these challenges as we have learned in class
I think your post is very intriguing, Zeyad as this issue has been ongoing for a while now and there is a lot of debate on when it will happen.
Idealistically, Qatar has more than sufficient financial and manpower resources which, combined with Bahrain’s input, can complete the causeway before the 2022 FIFA world cup. In reality though, after years of intense lobbying and promises of a comprehensive infrastructure development, Doha has to show the world that its selection was justified. Accordingly, Doha will be working on establishing a new city for about 400,000 residents named Lusail, 12 stadia for the World Cup matches, $50 billion worth on hotels, leisure, tourism, sports, recreation and other projects in advance of this mega event which make it unlikely that they will focus on completing another mega-project such as the Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge.
Certainly bad project management and erroneous time estimation can be blamed for the delay of the bridge but other factors may include:
– Airline business will certainly drop with the facilitation of driving vehicles from Bahrain to Qatar and vice versa
– The scorching hot summer temperatures and desert environment could be a challenge for the players and fans coming to visit
Zeyad, thank you for this interesting topic.
I myself ask the question of when is this bridge ever going to be built. Working in logistics it is difficult nowadays to transport goods to other GCC countries mainly because of the crisis on King Fahad causeway. If the bridge between Qatar and Bahrain is built it will take a lot of pressure from the existing causeway and allow for freedom of movement.
Theoretically the bridge could be built, recourses are not a problem when the money you have is infinite. However in reality, it seems highly unlikely. The reason behind that is purely political, other than the fact that Bahrain and Qatar had their territorial differences, a move like this would effect the movement of imports and exports to KSA losing them a lot of revenue from customs and other charges which they have invested in heavily.
Many factors play a role in this issue, but let us hope that it gets built before the world cup it would be an excellent boost for our economy and the well being of all those in Bahrain.
Thanks for the article – some of the statistics are quite staggering. I have been hearing about this project every couple of years and then there are long periods of lull. While I am sure money is a major consideration (which country pays how much) additional delays simply translate into larger monetary requirements. Besides the recent economic recession I am certain the Arab Spring and preparations for the World Cup have also played their part to put this on hold. In any event this would be an excellent development and would promote business opportunities for both countries as well as encourage greater movement of manpower in the region (imagine living in Bahrain and working in Qatar).
Thanks for post , I will look to the Qatar -Bahrain causeway from different prospect ,initially there are high level deal between two countries . A committee was formed to manage the project ,these committee should highlight all type of risk. These risks can result in cost, schedule, or performance problems and create other types of adverse consequences for the project . For example:
• Political risk The risk that an investment’s returns could suffer as a result of political changes or instability in a country. Instability affecting investment returns could stem from a change in government, legislative bodies, other foreign policy makers, or military control. Political risk is also known as “geopolitical risk,” and becomes more of a factor as the time horizon of an investment gets longer
I agree with comments above that the political situation between the two countries is one of the main reasons the project is delayed.
Even though Qatar have a number of major projects going on in preparation for World Cup 2020, financially i don’t think this would stop them from taking another major project (the causeway).
Both countries should keep in mind the economical benefit both would receive if this causeway was completed.
As much as i personally would like for the causeway to see the light of day, i am not very optimistic.
Thank you Zeyad for the interesting post 🙂
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I spent more than 20 years in Qatar and Bahrain, working and having to put up from time to time with travelling from one country to the other through airports lounges, police and customs filtering lines and of course air travel which at all times the least excited me. So short a trip that one hadn’t the time to drink a cup of tea. Also, transport to and from each airport wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
I had hoped that this fantastic causeway would give me the opportunity to ride my way to Manama from Doha but no chance . As a matter of fact, I would have loved to do the complete loop of Doha – Salwa – Dhahran – Manama – Doha but perhaps in another life. I don’t this project will get to be realised now that oil exports revenue will never go back to where they were. Sorry for that. Best.
Glad to see some still have dreams no matter how improbable the realites.