A new passenger ferry service linking the Gulf Arab states and India set sail from Bahrain on Saturday, June 30, for the Iraqi port of Um Qasr, a Bahrain-based shipping line said.
Ibrahim Rajab, a spokesman for Tylos Ferry, told AFP that the vessel Al-Salam Taba I left Bahrain's Mina Salman port with more than 420 passengers on board. It was due to arrive in Iraq on Sunday.
Al-Salam, which earlier June launched the first passenger sea link between the Gulf and India in almost 30 years, already picked up almost 40 travelers to Iraq from Doha on Friday. It will operate "like a taxi service", depending on demand from countries in the Gulf, explained Rajab.
On its return to Bahrain from Iraq, a 20-hour crossing, the vessel will either travel directly to the southern Indian port city of Cochin or make other Gulf stops en route to pick up more passengers.
The 700-passenger capacity service mainly targets the millions of Indian expatriate workers and their families in the Gulf monarchies.
Tylos Ferry says the shipping line has received UN approval to run the ferry link with Iraq, which has been under UN sanctions since its August 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
The United Arab Emirates launched ferry links with Iraq in November 1998. (AFP, Manama)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )