KUWAIT CITY : Kuwait on Wednesday inaugurated one of the world's largest causeways, linking the oil-rich Gulf state's capital to an uninhabited border region set to become a major free trade hub.

The 36-kilometre [22 mile] bridge connects Kuwait City to the northern desert area of Subbiya, where Kuwait aims to create the ''Silk City'' project linking the Gulf to Central Asia and Europe.

The ''Jaber'' bridge, named after after late ruler Sheikh Jaber AI-Ahmed Al-Sabah, spans 36 kilometres [22 miles], three-quartered of it over water.

It cuts the driving time between Kuwait City and Subbiya, close to both Iraq and Iran, from 90 minutes  to less than half an hour.

Investment in the Silk City project is expected to top $100 billion, and a megawatt power plant has already been built in Subbiya.

The $3.6 billion causeway, designed by Paris based engineering and consulting group Systra, took five years to build.

The work was carried out by a consortium led by South Korea's Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co, alongwith Kuwait's Combined Group Contracting Co.

The opening ceremony was attended by Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabal AI-Ahmed AI-Sabah alongwith South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon and the leader of the French senate, Gerard Larcher.

Lee Nak-yeon said the causeway would establish Kuwait as an international trade centre. [AFP]


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