Dubai is considering a project to build a $200bn mega-canal that would allow oil tankers to bypass the Strait of Hormuz and reduce Iran's influence on oil transport out og the Gulf.
The canal would cross the United Arab Emirates from Dubai to Fujairah through the country's mountainous hinterland.
Over 90% of the Gulf's oil (40% of the world's trade) must be transported through the Strait of Hormuz and Iran has said it will block the channel if threatened. (As Iran has attempted earlier,end of the eighties.)
The costs of such a project, estimated at around $200 billion, could prove prohibitive even for Dubai.
But other oil producers, such as Saudi, Kuwait and Iraq, might be persuaded to contribute to the Dubai canal project.
Increased use of pipelines might be a more cost-effective alternative to Hormuz.
Abu Dhabi is currently building a 1.5 million barrels per day capacity 370 km long pipeline link from its oil producing fields to Fujairah, where it will feed an export refinery.
More pipelines would be needed if other Gulf states dependent on oil exports via the Strait of Hormuz were to find alternative export routes.
It will be interesting to see whether fear of an Iranian economic blockade of the straits of Hormuz is enough to get this project off the ground and through the Hajar mountains.
Marc Van de Velde