Construction work on the Middle East’s largest underwater tunnel (Silk Tunnel) in Basra in South Iraq has reached advanced stage.

Hussein Jalil Al-Rubaie, official spokesperson of Ministry of Transport told Zawya Projects that the tunnel being built under Khor Al Zubair Channel forms part of the new highway being built to link the Al Faw Grand Port to Umm Qasr Port and the existing transport network.

South Korea’s Daewoo Engineering & Construction had bagged the tunnel contract as part of a $2.7 billion deal with the Iraqi government General Company for Ports of Iraq (GCPI), which also included a container terminal and roads to the Al Faw Port.

The spokesperson declined to disclose the completion rate but said the 2.5-kilometre tunnel is an important segment of the Iraq’s ambitious dry canal project, which seeks to link Asia and Europe via road and rail network, as well as gas and oil pipelines.

He said the tunnel will enable Al Faw Port to become a gateway for the transport of goods from the Arabian Gulf, and South and East Asia to Turkey and onwards to Europe.

The Al Faw project also includes plans for a railway line linking the Port to Basra, and the national railway network.

(Reporting by Majda Muhsen; Editing by Anoop Menon)