Saudi Arabia to build artificial oil canal in ‘project of the century’

The new canal will start from the Arabian Sea and will pass through Omani and Yemeni borders before reaching Rub Al-Khali

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Saudi Arabia intends to establish a 1,000 km-long canal linking the Gulf with the Arabian Sea, passing by the Kingdom to facilitate transport of oil, avoiding the Strait of Hormuz.

The latest issue of Al-Muhandis magazine, published by the Saudi Council of Engineers, has described the largest artificial canal as the project of the century and the Kingdom’s second renaissance.

Esmat Al-Hakeem, an engineer, said the Saudi Electricity Company is currently studying the project, which aims at not only transporting oil but also generating electricity using nuclear power.

The vital project was first proposed seven years ago. In the first phase it will be used to produce electricity. Later it will be transformed into the country’s second renaissance.

The new canal will start from the Arabian Sea and will pass through Omani and Yemeni borders before reaching Rub Al-Khali, the second largest desert in the world covering a total area of 600,000 square kilometers.

“The canal will have a length of 1,000 km,” said Al-Hakeem.

A number of canals will be constructed inside the Kingdom to be linked with the big canal, he said, adding that a nuclear power plant would be set up on every canal to produce electricity. The plants will be established in the Empty Quarter away from residential cities.

“These plants will generate not less than 50 gigawatts of electricity in addition to desalinated water which will be supplied to residential districts and agricultural farms in the region.

Modern cities will be constructed near the branches of these canals to accommodate workers engaged in implementing new projects including power generation plants, industries, agricultural fields, animal farms and irrigation facilities in the Empty Quarter.

Tourist centers would also be developed on the canals for winter recreation when temperatures fall in Europe, US and other countries, the study said.

Huge agricultural projects will be established in green houses to produce vegetables and different types of flowers. Fish farming and poultry and dairy farms are other projects planned.

“The move aims at transforming the Empty Quarter, which is now an abandoned region, into a food basket of Saudi Arabia and the main power supply center,” said Al-Hakeem.

According to the study, 10 nuclear power stations will be constructed along the new canals with a total capacity of 50 gigawatt, which is the Kingdom’s present electricity requirement. This will enable the Kingdom to avoid its dependence on traditional power stations powered by oil.

Plans are also underway to establish solar power fields in the Empty Quarter to produce not less than 50 gigawatt of electricity, he explained. The capacity of solar plants would be increased gradually to reduce dependence on nuclear plants, he added.

Referring to industry, the study said plans are being made to establish huge plants for manufacturing heavy and light vehicles, intermediate and high-speed ships, trucks and solar panels.

Referring to transportation, the study has proposed establishment of two airports for transportation of passengers and goods. Communication facilities by land would also be constructed to link the projects in the Empty Quarter with main Saudi cities. A railway line will also be constructed.

“The project also aims at transforming the Kingdom into an exporter of products instead of its present position as a consumer country,” Al-Hakeem told Okaz/Saudi Gazette. Saudi Arabia will play a pioneering role in peaceful use of nuclear energy, he added.

It will also help Kingdom achieve remarkable progress in industry, agriculture, livestock and energy supply and create a lot of opportunities for Saudi engineers specialized in various disciplines. It will also transform the desert land of Empty Quarter into a paradise of greeneries, rivers and canals.

The project can be implemented in other countries, he said. “In case the international canal is not realized because of political reasons, the canals inside the Kingdom can be linked with the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf and nuclear plants will be constructed for peaceful purposes.

This article was first published by the Saudi Gazette on Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

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