Qatar’s recent awarding of the 2022 World Cup is seen as having influenced the decision, the news reports say. Among other things, the bridge would enable Bahrain to handle some of the thousands of tourists who are expected to descend on Qatar.
However, Arabianbusiness.com quoted Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, as saying the bridge was “a must for both countries, even without the World Cup.”
As recently as June the bridge had seemed unlikely to be built anytime soon, due to escalating costs and political differences between the countries involved, the Arabianbusiness report went on.
It quoted Sheikh Khalifa as saying that the initial budget for the project of $3bn would need to be reviewed, as it had been drawn up before the global economic downturn that began in 2008.
Both Bahrain and Qatar have flourishing financial services industries. On the most recent Global Financial Centres Index, which Qatar has now begun to sponsor in place of the City of London, Qatar is tied for 34th place with Hamilton, Bermuda, while Bahrain ranks 42nd, below Brussels and above Milan.
Qatar, which is said to be the world’s top exporter of liquefied natural gas, is around 15 times the size of Bahrain, at 11,586sq km to Bahrain’s 760sq km. However, Qatar’s population of 841,000 is only slightly (about 13%) greater than Bahrain’s, which stands at about 738,000.