Capital -- A project for a multi- billion dollar bridge that would span the Red Sea at an 18-mile-wide strait, connecting the southern tip of Yemen with Djibouti, was launched on Monday, July 28, in Djibouti with the initial stage of the project scheduled to start next October.
The venture is part of a 200 billion dollar, Al Noor Cities Project, to be developed by Al Noor Holding Investment Co. (Al Noor), a United Arab Emirates based company owned by Sheik Tarek M. bin Laden and his two sons, Bandar and Amr, the former being the brother of Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda.
The ‘Bridge of the Horns’ will have a six-lane highway with four light rail lines as well as water and oil pipelines. Connecting East Africa and the Middle East, the project involves the development of two new cities that would eventually be connected by a 28.5 km road and rail bridge between Yemen and Djibouti. It will also comprise suspension bridge structures, with the suspension portion to become the longest in the world. Moreover, to allow large vessels to pass underneath, the bridge would have two main suspension spans, each about 2.7kilometers long.
Speaking at the launching, CEO of Al Noor Mohammed Ahmed Al Ahmed said, “It is a new city and it is happening. Africa is the center of the world with a population of close to 1 billion, while the Middle East North Africa region has a population of 400 million. We have all the ingredients to make this project a reality.”
More than 50 top companies in the world, many of them from the US, are closely associated with the project, which has an estimated price tag ranging from 10 to 20 billion USD and was conceptualized by Sheikh Tarek bin Laden. bin Laden’s company, Al Noor Holding Investment, will be responsible for the projects execution in phases to be spread out across 12 to 15 years.
Mesfin Asfaw, representative of Middle East Development LLC Tarek and Elias Taha, Coordinating Committee of the project both based in Ethiopia, jointly told Capital that Al Noor Alliance, which has already been formed as a group of 50 world class companies, will be responsible for the management of the project.
“The Alliance Program Management Office has been established by the alliance and will staff, develop and manage this program through its entire life cycle,” Mesfin said, “There will be no constraint of funding”.
Present at the launch announcement were Prime Minister of Djibouti, Mohammed Dileita, Shiek Tarik bin Laden and his two sons, Bandar and Amr, several Djiboutian officials and some 200 journalists from nearly 80 countries.
Tarek bin Laden is an elder brother of the world’s most famous terrorist.
The bin Laden family, from Saudi Arabia, has operated a construction empire for decades. In the mid-1990s, the clan cut its financial ties with Osama bin Laden, founder of al-Qaeda, around the time he declared war on the United States and called for the overthrow of the Saudi ruling family.
Since then, the rest of the bin Ladens -- Osama has 24 half brothers and 29 half sisters -- have quietly gone on with their business. The bridge would be their most ambitious project to date, overshadowing their renovations of Islamic holy sites in the Saudi cities of Mecca and Medina.