Saudi Arabia and Egypt are about to start on an ambitious transcontinental project to span the Gulf of Aqaba, creating a direct link between Africa and Arabia. The Times

The project would involve the construction of two bridges across the Tiran Strait spanning a total distance of about 15 miles. The first, from the Saudi mainland at Ras el-Sheikh Humayd, would cross to Tiran island. The second, more challenging section, would span the wider and deeper mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba and join the Sinai Peninsula at Sharm el-Sheikh. The bridge would cost £1.5bn and could be completed by 2012. A consortium of Saudi, Kuwaiti and Egyptian partners is involved in the project.

Saudi monarch King Abdullah is expected to lay the foundation stone for the causeway, which has been discussed for 20 years, when he visits the northern province of Tabuk next week.