Saudi Arabia plans to build a military base and nuclear dump on a proposed project that would turn the peninsula of Qatar into an island, the Al Riyadh newspaper reported.
On Thursday, the Sabq online newspaper reported that authorities are considering digging a 60 kilometer (37.5 mile) canal, measuring 200 meters wide and up to 20 meters deep, running the entire length of the strip of Saudi territory that borders Qatar. Al Riyadh, citing people familiar with the venture, reported that Saudi Arabia would earmark part of the canal zone for the base and a facility for nuclear waste from its planned reactors.
The Saudi government’s Center for International Communication didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The U.A.E. appeared to confirm the canal project, with Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeting that Qatar’s “silence on the canal project is proof of their fear and confusion.”
Construction of the canal would deepen the rift between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, which cut trade and diplomatic ties with the emirate in June. Qatar denies their charges that it supports terrorism and meddles in their affairs.
According to Sabq, the 2.8 billion riyal ($750 million) project is awaiting licensing, with construction expected to be completed within 12 months of approval. Al Riyadh reported that the Saudi-Qatar border post has been cleared of customs and immigration personnel so border guards can take over management of the region.
The project will be financed by private Saudi and Emirati investors, with Egyptian companies carrying out the digging, Al Riyadh said. Separately, Emirati authorities also plan to build a nuclear waste dump “at the closest point to Qatar on the Emirati border,” the paper reported.