Muscat: An agreement to set up a path breaking railway network linking Oman and the UAE has been inked.
Worth a whopping $3 billion (OMR1.160 billion), the deal was signed by Oman Rail—developer and operator of the national railway network in Oman—and Etihad Rail, developer and operator of the national railway network in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A firm to be called “Oman and Al-Ittihad Company”, owned 50-50 by the two sides, will design and operate the network which will connect Sohar Port and UAE National Railway Network.
The pact was inked within the context of the state visit of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, to Oman. The agreement was signed on behalf of Oman Rail Company—a subsidiary of Asyad Group—by Eng. Abdul Rahman Salim Al Hatmi, CEO of the Asyad Group, and Eng. Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail Company.
Under the agreement, the new company will set an action plan in motion to implement the project, which includes financing mechanisms, scheduling and supervision of the design, implementation and operation of the railway network linking Sohar and the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in line with top standards endorsed by the two countries.
This partnership constitutes an extension of the strong strategic and historical relations binding Oman and the UAE at all levels. It will bolster business activity and boost social, economic, industrial, commercial ties. At a speed of 200 km/h, the passenger train will cover the 303 km distance between Sohar and Al Ain in 147 minutes—maintaining safety and environmental standards, while the cargo train will travel at 120 km/h.
The railway network will raise the efficiency of supply chains and facilitate cross-border trade by linking commercial outlets on both sides. Compared with other means of transport, it will help augment the levels of market competitiveness, reducing the overall cost of supply chains. It will also provide new trade and investment opportunities for the private sector, which will be awarded the bulk of the project’s contracts.
Other plus points include the creation of new jobs, training nationals, activating tourism activity, enhancing the region’s global competitiveness as a logistics axis for import and export business. The Minister underscored the project’s significance to the logistics sector, which influences industrial sector and economic sectors and generates trade and investment opportunities for the private sector. He noted that the network will cap up the integration of Omani ports, linking them to regional and global markets.
He added that the project will yield many strategic, economic and social benefits. It will also help diversify the two countries’ national economies, link their populations and industrial centres, develop infrastructure and life quality and consolidate social ties and tourism activity.