The proposed bridge is just one element in a wider disagreement between regional giant Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which is seeking to amend a 1974 border pact agreed to shortly after the UAE was formed in 1971.    

"Regarding the bridge, Saudi Arabia had to deliver a protest note to the governments of Qatar and the Emirates because this is not acceptable, because this would pass through Saudi regional waters," Saudi newspapers on Wednesday quoted Prince Nayef bin Abd al-Aziz, the minister of interior, as saying.

Two weeks ago the prince visited Abu Dhabi for talks on the 1974 border pact, under which the UAE ceded to Saudi Arabia a strip of land linking the UAE and Qatar.

London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi newspaper said the UAE still claimed sovereignty over the Gulf waters off that strip of land. The proposed bridge would pass through those waters.

Earlier this month Nayef denied a report that the two sides also discussed a UAE request to exploit its part of Shaybah oilfield, which lies across their joint border but falls mainly in Saudi territory.

Nayef denied the existence of any border dispute with the UAE, saying the two countries are in touch over the finalisation of the 1974 border agreement.

He also accused the media of spreading false information and whipping up tensions.