Regional News

Gulf rail network launch delayed till 2021

November 2016

The Gulf states have agreed in principle to delay the completion date of a 2,100-km transnational rail network stretching from Kuwait to Oman by three years to 2021.

Ministers from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE met in Riyadh in April to discuss a more plausible deadline to connect the six states by rail after the original 2018 deadline was seen to be unrealistic, reported the Gulf News.

“In principle we agreed on 2021 as a ceiling,” the UAE Minister for Infrastructure Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi was quoted as saying in the report.

GCC ministers will meet again “later this year” where it is hoped the six states will give a firm commitment to a new deadline date, Al Nuaimi said. 

“Some countries might link before then (2021) [and] some of them might even need a higher ceiling,” he added.

Asked if the regional delay was for economic reasons, Al Nuaimi said, “I wouldn’t say no.”

Etihad Rail, the entity building the UAE’s network, suspended the tender process for Phase Two in January, which included building a link to neighbouring Oman.

“The suspension was logical because you simply cannot build your part and wait for others,” Al Nuaimi said. 

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