According to domestic media reports, Saudi Arabia is looking to move forward with a plan that would see its neighbor Qatar turned into an island – rather than the small peninsula it is currently – with the added insult of dumping toxic waste in the canal that will run between them.
Five international companies that specialize in digging canals have been invited to vie for the project, with bids closing on Monday and the winner to be chosen within 90 days, Makkah newspaper reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter. The canal should be completed within one year of work starting, it said. The report was also carried by Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya and shared on Twitter by Saudi royal court adviser Saud Al Qahtani.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have an ongoing rift with Qatar, which the countries claim is due to Qatari involvement with terrorism as well as intruding into their domestic affairs – charges Qatar denies.
Last year, all four countries cut trading and diplomatic ties with the soon-to-be island.
In April, media reported that the channel would be 60 kilometers (37.5 miles) long and 200 meters (219 yards) wide, running the entire length of the strip of Saudi territory that borders Qatar. Part of the canal zone would be set aside for a planned nuclear waste facility, Al Riyadh newspaper reported, and Sabq online newspaper said the canal project could cost up to 2.8 billion riyals ($750 million).