Tallest Suspension Bridge in the Mideast Unveiled

Tallest Suspension Bridge in the Mideast UnveiledTallest Suspension Bridge in the Mideast Unveiled

The Middle East’s tallest suspension bridge was inaugurated Saturday in Meshkin Shahr, Ardabil Province, in a ceremony attended by local officials and the head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts, and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) Masud Soltanifar, IRNA reported.

At 365 meters long, 2 meters wide and 80 meters high, the bridge in northwestern Iran is the largest construction of its kind in the region.

Soltanifar touted the country’s ability to construct safe and attractive structures and said, “The bridge was completely designed and built by Iranians.” He added that Iran is one of the major exporters of technical services “in the world.”

It is built over the Khiavchai River next to the city of Meshkin Shahr, in a region noted for its potential for tourism development.

The construction of the bridge, cost estimated at 400 billion rials ($12 million), was resumed recently after a six-year hiatus.

Tourist resort with facilities such as hotels, spa pools, a variety of tracks such as skiing, horseback riding, chariot racing and cycling and other ancillary facilities is scheduled to be built in the vicinity of the bridge.

  Tourism Potential

A paper presented at the World Geothermal Congress in Australia earlier this year described Meshkin Shahr’s hot springs as “a fantastic opportunity” to develop an “international destination for natural spa tourism.”

There are already three spa complexes in the region, and Meshkin Shahr is one of the main hopping off points into the iconic Sabalan Mountain - the third highest peak in the country.

The city itself has numerous tourist attractions, including a castle, petrographs, and the tomb of Shaykh Haydar, a leader of a Sufi order in the 15th century.

Iran is making attempts to attract more international visitors. Soltanifar said the aim is to attract 20 million tourists by 2025 and earn $30 billion annually from the industry, in line with Iran’s 20-year National Vision Plan (2005-2025).

“If all goes well, tourism should be able to match oil industry’s revenue in the near future,” he asserted.

ICHHTO is currently spending 230 trillion rials ($7 billion) on 940 projects to develop tourism infrastructure.