Qatar Rail’s design and build contracts worth $8.2bn for phase-one of its Doha Metro project signals a “turn of fortune” for the planned GCC rail network that hopes to address mounting urban mobility issues confronting the region, a report has said.
This, along with Saudi Arabia’s $22bn of contracts for the delivery of the Riyadh Metro, represents two of the region’s biggest metro schemes, said Meed.
In Riyadh, contractors will build 176 kilometres of metro lines within five years – an undertaking that even seasoned metro builders say has never been taken on before.
The Doha Metro also involves the construction of multiple tracks. Both schemes face a multitude of challenges ranging from land acquisition to traffic management and manpower to financing.
With these domestic projects now moving forward from concept to execution, experts say the GCC rail network is closer to forging ahead. Once completed, it will not only help address road congestion but also from a macro-economic perspective, boost economic growth, diversify economies, boost inter-regional trade and enhance the possibility of major Gulf cities becoming international trade hubs.
With such far reaching implications, the region’s rail network aspiration has become a priority development goal for GCC member countries and a matter of keen interest for international stakeholders.
An assessment of the planned regional rail’s progress to date and the way forward will be made by Dr Ramiz al-Assar, World Bank resident adviser, Gulf Cooperation Council-Secretariat General, Riyadh; Ibrahim al-Sabti, director (Transportation Department) Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf-General Secretariat at the forthcoming Mena Rail and Metro Summit, organised by Meed Events, and scheduled to take place on October 29 and 30 in Abu Dhabi.
Earlier this year, al-Assar said the regional network could be operational as early as 2018; he also expects the approvals for the regional authority that will govern the development and management of the railway – including agreements on customs and immigration policies as well as ticketing and profit-sharing mechanisms – will be given in 2014. More info