Saudi Arabia is considering building a canal across its border with Qatar; turning Qatar from a peninsula into an island.

Saudi newspaper Sabq reported that planners are still waiting for official permission to begin construction of a canal, but the project could be completed in just a year at a cost of $750 million. Designs suggest it would be 60km in length, 200 metres wide and between 15 and 20 metres deep, cutting Qatar off from its southern neighbor.

The newspaper said that a 1km stretch of land north of the canal, bordering Qatar, would become a “military zone”, permanently ending land trade between the two Gulf countries.

This is the latest surprising move in the ongoing diplomatic and economic standoff between the two countries. In early June 2017, Saudi Arabia was one of four countries (alongside Bahrain, Egypt, and the UAE) to impose a boycott on most trade and transport links with Qatar. Their complaints – strongly denied by Qatar – including claims that their small but extremely wealthy neighbor had been interfering in their domestic affairs, supporting terrorist groups and drawing too close to Iran.

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