In November 1986 Bahrain ceased to be an island with links to the Arabian mainland with the completion of the King Fahad Causeway between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
This immense project began in 1981, but had been seriously discussed between the leaderships of the two countries as early as the mid-1950s. A committee was formed in 1968 between the two countries to investigate the implications of such an enterprise and discussion of the issue continued throughout the 1970s. In July 1981, Mohammed Aba Al-Khail, then Finance Minister of Saudi Arabia and Yousif Ahmed Al-Shirawi, then Bahrain Minister of Industrial Development, signed an agreement to start construction of the causeway.
This 25km causeway which at the time cost around $1.2bn, has proved its viability, with tens of thousands of motorists heading in both directions across the causeway every day and the number of users frequently exceeding one million per month. In 2010, there were an estimated 19 million crossings of the causeway.
In fact, the project has been so successful that plans are underway for a further two causeways. The first will be a new link between Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, to ease traffic congestion; and the second will connect Bahrain and Qatar, planned for completion before the 2022 Qatar World Cup. Both these two links will also be connected up as part of a projected regional rail network.
A significant number of people commute across the Saudi causeway every day, particularly Western expats who chose to base their families in Bahrain, while working in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province just over half an hour’s drive away. The causeway has also greatly opened up Bahrain to regional tourism, with thousands of Saudis visiting Bahrain each weekend. Furthermore, the causeway has dramatically eased the flow of goods and trade between these two GCC nations.
The projected 40km link to Qatar was agreed as far back as 2005, but has been subject to repeated delays. Once again, the initiative could go a long way for opening Bahrain up to regional trade and tourism and greatly benefit Bahrain and the region’s economy.
First for Bahrain
- Bahrain’s first mosque
- First artificial islands
- Female president of UN General Assembly
- First nation to host Gulf Cup
- First mention in historical record
- First modern schools
- First causeway
- First oil well in the region
- First media outlets
- Bahrain’s first lady
- Women in medicine
- International Airshow
- First referendum
- First Grand Prix