MANAMA — The reopening of the King Fahd Causeway will add billions of dollars to Bahrain’s economy as visitor levels return to pre-pandemic levels, according to an expert.
Dr. Ali Al-Moulani, president of the Bahrain Economists Society, hailed the kingdom’s “longstanding tourism and trade ties” with Saudi Arabia following news that the country’s travel restrictions will soon be lifted.
Saudi citizens will be permitted to travel via air, land and sea from March 31 2021 following a drop in the number of COVID cases. A suspension on international flights will be lifted on the same date, according to the country’s Ministry of the Interior.
After the travel restrictions are removed, thousands of visitors are expected to cross the King Fahd Causeway linking Saudi Arabia to Bahrain — leading to an anticipated rebound for the kingdom’s tourism and hospitality sector.
Dr. Al-Moulani commented: “Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have had longstanding tourism and trade ties, with trade between our two countries growing 43% during the third quarter of 2020.
“The recent announcement made about permanently opening the King Fahd Causeway will strengthen these ties even further.
“Prior to the pandemic, Bahrain welcomed around 11 million tourists with over 88% coming through the Causeway.
“The number of visitors from Saudi Arabia is set to gradually go back to normal levels following this announcement and expected to add around $2.9 billion to Bahrain’s economy this year based on average tourist spending in 2019.”
King Fahd Causeway was opened in 1986, and today it is one of the busiest land border crossings in the Middle East with an estimated 390 million passengers having used the bridge since its opening.
It was recently announced that Bahrain Customs has installed high-tech artificial intelligence scanners on the bridge, automating data collection and allowing shipment inspections to take place before reaching the border.