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KUWAIT CITY, June 1: According to the Oxford Business Group website, the Gulf countries will revitalize the plan for the railway network between them after the many delays in the previous period. It is because this network constitutes a transformation of trade and linkage among the countries of the region, reports Al-Qabas daily. In a report, it explained that the project received a big boost in December when the leaders of the countries agreed on the establishment of the GCC Railway Authority.
This decision represents a potentially important development for the railway infrastructure in the region. The countries of the region had agreed to a railway project in 2009, but financial pressures led to the delay of the project. The delay was also linked to the drop in the oil prices in 2014 followed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The GCC railway project aims to connect the Gulf countries through a railway line of length 2,177 km, starting from Kuwait in the north, passing through the cities of Jubail and Dammam in Saudi Arabia, heading to Manama and Doha, then returning the line to Saudi Arabia before moving to Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Fujairah, before reaching its final destination in Muscat. Regional media had reported earlier that the Gulf officials hope to operate the railway by 2025.
This line will significantly improve regional communication by reducing transportation duration and costs between major cities and ports in the Gulf states, as well as improving trade exchange between the countries of the region, and attracting foreign investment. Shortening the travel duration using the Gulf railway may help boost the tourism and entertainment sectors of all the countries of the region. These two sectors are what a number of Gulf countries are seeking to develop in line with broader efforts to diversify their economies.
Building the Gulf railway is an important positive matter for regional cooperation and will support plans for more economic harmonization within the countries of the region. The report revealed that, “The development of the Gulf railway is in line with the efforts of each country to expand its local transport infrastructure. Amid global plans to reduce carbon emissions and improve connectivity, railways are seen as a key to the future of transportation in the Gulf states”.
The report highlighted examples of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar that developed their railway networks in isolation from the future development of the Gulf network. Other Gulf countries such as Oman hope that the Gulf railway plans will revitalize the delayed local railway plans. Similarly, the railway development projects in Kuwait faced several delays. It had announced plans to build a railway network of a length of 160 km in 2009 and connect it to the Gulf railway. The website concluded by saying that, despite the suspension of the railway construction project in 2015, Kuwait made plans in January 2020 to establish a railway consisting of 68 stations linking Kuwait City with the international airport, the university, and several residential and industrial areas in the country.