<![CDATA[Heard of Bahrain? Of course you have. It's an extraordinary country, not least because it's an island state – and a small one at that, smaller even than the diminutive Faroe Islands located mid-way between the United Kingdom and Iceland. At around 300 square miles, and measuring some 30 miles from north to south and about 10 miles from east to west, Bahrain is one of the tiniest countries in the world. If measured by area alone, this beautiful Persian Gulf state is listed 189th out of a total of more than 230 countries, which places it ahead of the Isle of Man but behind Tonga.
So there you have it in terms of its size and its location. Yes, small it may be but the country punches well above its weight on the world stage. It also has one of the most successful economies in the Middle East, recognised far and wide for its openness and transparency. Bahrain’s financial services sector is also strong and vibrant and a real positive for all would-be entrepreneurs aiming to set up in the country. No worries then using a business credit card in Bahrain, or looking for potential investors and business partners, or even searching out some seed capital to get ideas off the ground. The opportunities are all there and waiting!
Most visitors enter the country through Bahrain’s international airport which is situated on Muharraq, an island off the northern coast. The airport, linked to the mainland by the Shaikh Isa bin Salman Causeway, is slightly less than five miles from the Bahraini capital Manama. But there is another way to visit the island state and that’s by using the 15-mile King Fahd Causeway. The causeway – actually a series of bridges and causeways built at a total cost of some $800 million – was officially opened in 1986 and connects Bahrain with its giant neighbour Saudi Arabia.
Another causeway, a much longer one, is also planned for the island aimed at connecting Bahrain with Qatar. However, the start-stop project seems to be on hold at the moment amid tentative suggestions now of a completion date a little before the 2022 FIFA World Cup competition. The competition is of course being hosted by Qatar.
If and when the 25-mile Qatar Bahrain Causeway, often dubbed the Qatar Bahrain Friendship Bridge, is finally built, at an estimated cost of just under $3 billion, it should be the longest man-made bridge in the world. Certainly, Bahrain’s foreign minister Shaikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa appears confident of its completion.
Quoted in the business website TradeArabia, Shaikh Khalid explained rising costs and the onset of the world financial crisis had led to a review of the project, the findings of which were still being awaited. He also confirmed Qatar had listed the causeway as part of development projects linked to the World Cup. Thus the causeway would see the light of day.
According to TradeArabia, travel time from Qatar to Bahrain is expected to be reduced from four-and-a-half hours to around 30 minutes as a result of the causeway, which will also provide a connection for future high-speed freight and passenger rail lines between the countries.
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