Russia may take part in major railroad project linking the Arabian peninsula
“Saudi Arabia approved a program of infrastructure development until 2030. It contains a railway component and the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure of Saudi Arabia is currently preparing a tender for implementation of this project. A consultant has been selected; we received a request for our proposals concerning performance of the company and terms,” First Deputy CEO of the Russian railway operator Aleksandr Misharin told TASS news agency.
One of the projects under consideration is the Trans-Arabian Railway, which will be built through Saudi Arabia. The ambitious project of the Gulf countries, known as the GCC Rail Network, is seeking to connect Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar with a 2,100km railroad by 2021.
UAE Infrastructure Minister Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi said in October that the project could become operational by 2021 despite a regional rift that divided some of the countries involved. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, including transport links, after accusing their neighbor of backing terrorism. Kuwait and Oman have remained neutral in the conflict.
“That is still the date. It’s going forward. We still have small hiccups here and there but the project, hopefully, is going forward,” al-Nuaimi said. The UAE suspended the project in 2016, while Oman said it would concentrate on a domestic rail network. Al-Nuaimi did not specify whether construction has resumed.
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