India to lead development of Chabahar
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Laying tracks in the sand
Edwin Lammers from Sohar Port and Freezone on dramatic rail construction in the region
The Middle East is currently embarking on its most ambitious rail network ever. Some US$250 billion has been allocated for the construction of 67,000 kilometres of railway lines that threaten to create a new economic powerhouse to rival some of the world’s most robust economic blocs. These plans include an eagerly anticipated network of predominantly freight lines known collectively as the Gulf Railway that will connect Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Oman over the next three years, according to Abdullah Al Shibli, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs at the General Secretariat of the GCC. The 2,117km line will provide vital transport links between the regions logistically starved inland cities and its burgeoning port infrastructures, as well as opening up new trade and investment flows that promise to drive growth beyond 2020 – creating a wave of employment opportunities along the way.
Already home to a multi-billion dollar trade surplus and one of the world’s largest nominal GDP, in Saudi Arabia, GCC nations have seen a resurgence in their economic outlooks following the financial crisis in 2008, and the addition of new rail transportation looks set to consolidate this progress. With economies outgrowing inland infrastructures on almost all fronts, and the desire to increase cargo volumes in order to compensate for rising commercial warehousing costs in places like Dubai, the new rail network will be central to any growth ambitions in the Gulf. As in days past, the importance of rail has been highlighted ... More>>