Browsing 'bahrain' News

A ropax ferry in Italy, for illustrative purposes only

Jacopo Werther/Wikimedia

A ropax ferry in Italy, for illustrative purposes only

In an effort to woo more tourists, a local company plans to launch the first passenger and vehicle ferry between Qatar and Bahrain by the middle of next year.

The new service will include two return trips a day from Al Ruwais port in northern Qatar to Khalifa bin Salman port in Bahrain and will take commercial as well as personal vehicles.

This will be the first ferry service in recent years to run between Gulf countries, an industry source told Doha News.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

arwcheek / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The service will be operated by the Qatari firm Gulf Ferry, with input from Doha-based Sora Marine Services.

Shorter journey

The launch of the ferry will likely be welcome news for truck drivers.

It will also offer another route for tourists who want to explore the Gulf in their own vehicles.

The trip is estimated to take some 1.5 to 2.5 hours, compared to the 4.5 hour journey time by land from Qatar to Bahrain.

Driving there also currently involves crossing through Saudi Arabia.

In the past, there has been repeated talk of building a Qatar-Bahrain causeway, but this has never come to fruition.

If the ferry is successful, there are also plans to operate one from Qatar to the UAE, although there is no timeline for this yet.

This much longer route would involve an overnight crossing and so would use different vessels from those operating the Bahrain-to-Qatar trips.

How it will work

One boat has already been lined up to operate the route, with another soon to follow, the industry source told Doha News.

Each vessel will have a capacity of around 50 vehicles and can hold approximately 100 passengers at a time.

The “ro-pax” ferries allow vehicles to be driven straight onto and off of a dedicated deck.

There will also be separate passenger facilities. But the interior configuration of the vessels is still being confirmed, the source added.

Rumors of the new ferry began circulating on social media in Qatar last weekend.

A representative for Sora Marine Services confirmed to Doha News that preparations for the project were “ongoing,” and said full details of the service would be revealed early next year.

Exact timings for the service have not yet been confirmed, he added.

New routes

At least one shipping company in Abu Dhabi has previously talked about launching an intra-Gulf ferry line, but has not officially confirmed anything to date.

A commercial ferry used to run between Qatar and Iran, but this route ended several years ago.

The first phase of Al Ruwais port was officially inaugurated by Qatar’s Prime Minister early last year. It’s part of a plan to increase trade in the region, Qatar Ports Management Company (Mwani Qatar) said at the time.

Passengers on the cruise ship Azamara Journey dock in Doha

QTA/Twitter

Passengers on the cruise ship Azamara Journey dock in Doha

The new land route would make it easier to transport goods between the two countries, while also opening up opportunities for tourists.

Attracting more visitors to Qatar from neighboring Gulf states is a crucial part of Qatar’s developing tourism industry.

Nearly half of all visitors here during the first half of the year came from GCC countries.

Qatar is also keen to encourage more people to travel by sea to explore its attractions, including on the cruise circuit.

The World

QTA

The World

The World was the first of this season to dock here last month. Around 32 vessels are expected to come to Qatar between October and April 2017.

Would you take a ferry to Bahrain? Thoughts?

Qatar condemns attacks in Bahrain, Bangladesh

Qatar’s foreign ministry has condemned a bombing south of Bahrain’s capital on Thursday that killed one woman and injured her three children, saying it ran “contrary to all human values, principles and teachings of Islamic Sharia.”

It also condemned a shooting and hostage situation at a cafe in Bangladesh’s capital that ISIS has claimed responsibility for. According to QNA, Qatar said it “rejects violence and terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, whatever its motives and causes.”

Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen tests ahead of start of 2015 series

Michael Elloray/Flickr

Finnish driver Kimi Räikkönen tests ahead of start of 2015 F1 series

Qatar’s long-held ambition to host a Formula One grand prix looks like it may have stalled again after the head of the F1 group indicated he was not looking to add another race in the region.

Just a few months ago, Qatar appeared to be on the verge of signing a deal to bring the grand prix to the state for the first time, which would make it the third Gulf nation after Bahrain and Abu Dhabi to host the event.

However, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has now downplayed Qatar’s chances, telling reporters at the Bahrain Grand Prix this week, “I think we’ve got enough here, don’t you?”

Waiting game

For three years, motorsports fans have been waiting for Qatar to be given the green light to host the event, after Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) President Nasser Bin Khalifa Al Attiyah said in 2012 that he was keen to have F1 come here.

In February, the dream looked like it was close to happening, as Al Attiyah reportedly told AFP:

“We are about to sign contracts to organize a Formula One race. We have completed all the steps and there are only a few details before the official signature.”

At the time, the deal looked like it would happen by 2016 or 2017, and that the race would either be at the Losail International Circuit or a new street circuit in Doha, Sky Sports said.

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

CaterhamF1/Flickr

2013 Bahrain Grand Prix

This comment followed months of speculation as to whether Qatar was likely to be added to the F1 calendar.

In November last year, a number of motorsports publications said Qatar was a contender, and Ecclestone confirmed that talks were ongoing.

“We are looking at all possibilities there. Qatar is not signed but they are ready to go,” he said, according to a report in The Independent.

Bahrain’s role

However, just weeks later the plans were put on hold after the F1 chief said that Bahrain, as the first Gulf state to host the event in 2004, had veto rights on any other cities in the region joining the schedule.

According to Reuters, Ecclestone said:

“I made a deal with the people in Bahrain and they said, ‘If we are going to be something new in this area, which we are, will you give us a guarantee you won’t put another race on in the area, in the Gulf?’ I said yes. Typical Ecclestone handshake deal with the Crown Prince.”

While negotiations to add Abu Dhabi to the circuit in 2009 went through, including Qatar appears to be a trickier proposition.

Bahrain Grand Prix

AR AlHashemi/Flickr

Bahrain Grand Prix

Still, Bahrain circuit chief executive Sheikh Salman bin Isa Al-Khalifa has reportedly down-played the state’s option to block Qatar from joining.

“It’s not for us (to say). It’s for the rights holder. We welcomed Abu Dhabi when they came on board and we’ll wait and see,” he added. “I think Mr. E appreciates the loyalty we have kept with him,” Reuters quoted him as saying.

Referring to Qatar’s bid to join the F1 circle, he added: “It’s nothing we have seen that is serious, so until it is then we can’t (answer).”

Bahrain’s existing deal to host the Grand Prix expires next year. Al-Khalifa reportedly said talks were ongoing to extend the contract, and that he hoped that the state’s slot would get pushed to earlier in the calendar from its existing fourth place, which was in mid-April this year.

With Abu Dhabi closing the season in November, Qatar faces a question about when it would host an F1 event, to avoid being too close to those already set by its Gulf neighbors and also steering clear of the hot summer months.

Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, situated near Lusail city north of Doha, opened in 2004 and hosts motorcycle grand prix including MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 events as well as a number of rallies and endurance competitions.

Thoughts?