August 31, 2018 6:47 pm
Updated: August 31, 2018 10:03 pm

Saudi official touts plan to turn Qatar into an island, dump nuclear waste beside it

A picture shows a road sign near the Abu Samrah border crossing between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, June 20, 2017.

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A senior Saudi official has appeared to signal his support for a reported plan by Saudi Arabia to dig a canal beside its border with Qatar, effectively turning its estranged neighbour into an island.

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On Friday, Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, offered the clearest indication yet of his support for the idea.

“As a citizen, I am impatiently waiting for the details of the implementation of the East Salwa island project, this great historic project that will change the region’s geography,” al-Qahtani wrote on Twitter.

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Rumours of the plan have been circulating since April, when state-linked Saudi newspapers Sabq and al-Riyadh reported that the kingdom was looking to build a canal along its 60-km border with Qatar.

The Salwa Marine Canal would be dug entirely inside Saudi territory, and would leave a one-kilometre sliver of Saudi land beside the Qatari border.

Sabq reported that the canal project was aimed towards opening up new shipping channels and bolstering tourism vitalization. However, Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News reported in June that the new Saudi-Qatar border strip would be used to establish a military base and set up a waste dump for a Saudi nuclear reactor.

Other reports claimed that the United Arab Emirates, a close ally of Saudi Arabia’s, would also build a nuclear waste site as close as possible to its border with Qatar.

Qatar has been embroiled in a more than yearlong feud with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt, all of whom accuse the tiny peninsular country of supporting Islamist groups in the area and cozying up to Iran.

The quartet cut off diplomatic, trade and transport ties with Qatar in June 2017.

WATCH: Arab Gulf nations cut ties with Qatar, U.S. urges unity

Since then, anti-Qatar propaganda has been a frequent presence in Saudi media and prominent social media accounts including that of Infographic KSA, the group that tweeted an image depicting an Air Canada plane flying towards the CN tower in early August.

READ MORE: Saudi non-profit deletes Twitter image depicting Air Canada plane flying towards CN Tower

Prior to tweeting his support for the canal idea, al-Qahtani retweeted several posts that talked up the project as a means of isolating Qatar.

One tweet likened the construction of the canal to removing a “malignant cancerous tumour,” while another compared it to treating a wart.

Qatari authorities are yet to comment on the matter.

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