The planned causeway between Egypt and Saudi Arabia may harm the marine environment in Egypt, especially coral reefs, the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat quoted Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou as saying Tuesday.
Egyptian and Saudi reports say that the 32-kilometer causeway will link Sharm el-Sheikh to Ras Hamid, near Tabuk in Saudi Arabia, while passing over the Straights of Tiran. The London-based newspaper reported in August that the cost of the project was estimated at US$3 billion.
Zaazou said that the start of the project has been delayed pending further studies into its effects on the marine environment.
Industry professionals say beach holidays make up as much as 80 percent of Egyptian tourism. Red Sea beaches in particular draw many Western and other tourists.
Zaazou stressed that all political trends in Egypt, including the Islamists, agree that tourism is a primary pillar for Egypt’s economy.
Zaazou told London-based al-Hayat newspaper that there are two opinions on the bridge; one holds that it will be a quick and easy link for both sides, and the other says that both countries can be linked by a road other than that bridge at their closest meeting points, arguing that the bridge would have negative effects on coral reefs and other marine life.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm