A funding row is threatening to undermine plans to build a massive 50km flood barrier across the straits of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.
The Thames Barrier-like project is vital for the protection of places like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Quatar and Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from rising sea levels.
The row is brewing because cash strapped Dubai is refusing to put money into a feasisibility study. Its public sector is struggling with the impact of the credit crunch on the property sector, much of which is owned by the government.
It is thought that around £500M will be needed to assess options for the barrier which will include a massive shipping lock for oil tankers.
Dubai is at odds with other cash rich Gulf states who are keen to press on amid fears that rising sea levels will flood recently developed, low lying property developments. There is also pressure on Dubai to keep the project alive as massive offshore developments like the Palm Jumeira would face a real risk of flooding in the future.
Promoters are keen to keep the project moving ahead of a summit of Gulf leaders at which they are to seek the support of Iran. It too is reluctant to put money into the scheme as its resources are being swallowed up by its burgeoning nuclear power programme.
“We really must resolve this issue quickly,” said a spokesman for the Eno Lipra consortium which is working with project promoter Fooldu to develop the scheme.