A significant strategic shift happened in the second half of the 19th century as a result of the severe competition of the colonial powers for the control of maritime trade with the Far East. By 1882 the British were in control of both maritime trade routes with the Far East (the Suez Canal and the Arab-Persian Gulf). The Ottomans, along with the Germans, came up with the idea of building a railway to connect Istanbul with Taba on the Red Sea as an alternative to the Suez Canal. Merchandise could come by ships to Aqaba and from there it could be transported to the eastern Mediterranean ports and to Istanbul itself. This is where the idea of the Hijaz Railway originated. The quest for the trade of the Red Sea brought a sharp rise in interest in this crucial area of the Middle East.