A giant rail network linking the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council states is expected to start operations in 2017 at a cost of US $25 billion, according to a GCC official. GCC Assistant Secretary General Mohammed Obaid Al-Mazroui said that preliminary studies of the project, expected to cover some 2,000 km, have been completed and approved by GCC leaders.
He said the GCC secretariat, in cooperation with Gulf and international consultants, is now preparing detailed execution studies of the project.
The cost will be divided among GCC member states - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia - based on the length of the network in each country, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to pay the biggest shares. GCC leaders approved the project at their 2004 annual summit. The network will run from Kuwaiti border with Iraq in the north to Oman in the south.
30 September 2009
Analysis and forecast: decreasing risk
The move towards implementing the proposed rail network is a welcome development for all GCC states. At the moment, transport is either by road or air, imposing significant burdens on both goods and travelers. The creation of a rail network will enable greater economic diversification, as GCC states compete in diversifying their economies away from dependence on oil.
A rail network ultimately connected to Europe will undoubtedly help secure the success of such diversification.
Although common GCC projects have faced different challenges (such as the GCC common currency), a rail network is not expected to face such difficulties. It is in the interest of all GCC states to ensure the success of this project, which will help in their long-term economic survivability.