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Development of the world’s longest bridge across the Red Sea moves forward

Al-Noor, developers of the £300 billion project, expect to spend the rest of the year in discussion with stakeholders now that the land for development has been identified and initial plans unveiled.

Enzo Zoratto, chief strategic officer with US based consultant DCK Worldwide, confirmed discussions are underway. 'We have begun dialogue with a small group of major firms and expect many more. Engagement with interested stakeholders will take place within the next five months,' he said.

Leading architects have also been approached with the aim of starting the first phase of building within 18 months. They include Foster & Partners in London, HOK and RMJM.

When built the $25 billion suspension bridge over the Red Sea will be the longest in the world.

The construction programme will be overseen by US firm TSG Technical Services. Steve Cannon, its chief executive, said up to 300,000 workers will be needed at the peak of construction which is expected to be spread over 15 years.

The recently unveiled initial plans show a 3.2 km viaduct from the Yemeni coast to the island of Perim, where it passes for another 3.2 km before a final 21 km stretch to Ras Siyyan in Djibouti. The crossing would have as its centrepiece a 12.8 km suspension bridge towering above the sea, which is about 1,000 ft deep at its lowest point.

Up to 100,000 cars on a six lane motorway and 50,000 train passengers on a four track railway are anticipated to use the bridge daily when it is built. It will cross one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, which acts as a strategic link between the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, via the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.

Huge free zones and expanded ports are planned for either side of the crossing. On the Yemeni coast, at 1500 sq km, Madinat al Noor ('City of Light') would be six times larger than Paris. On the Djibouti shoreline, over two million people would live in their own 1,000 sq km metropolis.