Muscat: The 'ambitious' and 'prestigious' Oman National Railway project, which is part of a wider Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) railway network, will make Oman the gateway to the Gulf region, according to J. S. Mukul, the Indian ambassador to the Sultanate.
"The project will make Oman the gateway to the Gulf, particularly for countries like India across the Arabian Sea," said Mukul at the inauguration of the two-day Rail Exhibition and Conference here Wednesday.
The conference was organised by Silver Star Corporation, in association with Nispana Innovative Platforms. The event brought together regional and international experts from the rail sector to discuss and debate the best practices in the industry.
The summit, themed 'Connecting Oman to the GCC region' was attended by government stakeholders and professionals.
The Indian ambassador hailed the Sultanate's progress in all areas, noting, "We are extremely impressed by the infrastructure that Oman has already developed, and the railway project will add a new dimension to this infrastructure."
The Oman Railway Company (ORC), which is responsible for implementing the 2,244-km-long project, recently unveiled the list of pre-qualified consortiums and announced that it would float a tender inviting bids from these companies to construct the first section of the 170-kilometre Sohar-Buraimi route this month.
As many as 18 consortiums have been pre-qualified for civil work and another five for technical systems and these consortiums are eligible to participate in various tender packages for four years, according to the ORC.
Mukul said that the railway project will help develop the tourism sector, and will give a fillip to the economy of the entire region.
"It will also provide numerous opportunities for all international companies, including those from India, in various areas," the Indian ambassador added.
"With a total route network of about 64,000 kilometres spread across 7,146 stations and 19,000 trains operating every day, India's railway network is recognised as one of the largest railway systems in the world under a single management," he said, adding, "India's expertise in the railway sector is available for partnering in Oman's prestigious railway project."
Commenting on the bilateral relations between Oman and India, he said the two countries enjoy a 'strategic partnership' and have close ties in various spheres.
According to him, the latest data shows that in 2013-14, the bilateral trade increased to $5.77 billion, registering an impressive growth over the previous year with exports from Oman growing at a much faster rate.
"Oman is an important business partner… and cooperation in the railway project offers yet another opportunity in this multi-faceted bilateral relationship between India and the Sultanate," the ambassador noted.
The speakers at the conference included Loay Gazaleh from Bahrain's Ministry of Works and Mohammed Mohsin Al Dhuhli from Oman's Information Technology Authority.
According to Silver Star Corporation, ABB (Oman), BARSYL (India) and Bradken (Australia) were among companies that participated in the exhibition, along with BSS (Oman), Dohwa Engineering (Korea), GBM (Oman), Hill International (USA/UAE) and Oman Cables (Oman).
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