Perim, Yemen

Photo: Unknown (description of image my own, based on personal knowledge) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Could traveling between Africa and the Middle East get a whole lot easier? Absolutely. A bridge could connect new twin cities, called Al Noor City, in the Horn of Africa and on the Arabian Peninsula. The bridge would cross the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb, the strait that connects the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden. For some, it would cut out the long travel time in the complicated corner where Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt intersect. For others, it would be the first time this journey is possible.

The Bridge of the Horns, a nearly 18-mile suspension bridge, was first proposed in 2008. Official planning, between Djibouti and Yemen, began a year later. It even had an expected end date in 2020.

The bridge would cross Perim, a volcanic island off the southwest coast of Yemen. Due to its location at the southern entrance of the Red Sea, the crab-shaped island has been occupied by just about everyone. The Portuguese arrived in the early 16th century. Their plans to build a fort along the important trade route were derailed due to a lack of fresh water. The French and the British followed. Dry conditions scared them away, too. Eventually, the British, trying again, built a coaling station and an airfield. Even they had to be abandoned. Only fishermen remained. The bridge could be a new start for the rocky little island.

But the project was delayed in 2010. Then the Yemeni Civil War broke out. Travel to Yemen is highly discouraged. The bridge plan hasn’t been resurrected yet. So the dream of easily crossing the Red Sea from Africa to the Middle East, or vice versa, remains just a dream.

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