GCC eyeing $170bn transport move over 10-15 years

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By Andy Sambidge  www.arabianbusiness.com

Transport projects worth $170bn are expected to be put in place in the GCC region over the next 10-15 years, an industry expert has said.

About 85 percent of the investment is seen being made in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar while $108bn of it is set to be spent on rail projects.

Satish Khanna, general manager, Al Fajer Information and Services, which is staging the first GulfRail show and conference in Dubai in 2012, said that it would soon “be common for a person to travel from Dubai to Jeddah or Abu Dhabi to Doha in few hours, with convenience”.

He added: “In order to meet the pressing regional logistics demands, the next 10-15 years will see transport projects worth $170 billion. Out of this, 85 percent will be spent by UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.”

He added that plans to link Saudi Arabia to Europe by rail were no longer a “distant dream”, adding that the key driver of the rail industry for the GCC would be public-private partnerships.

“Investment opportunities in intelligent transport systems in the GCC are huge. The rail sector in this region is growing rapidly. Many companies outside the region regard the upcoming rail sector in the Middle East as the most lucrative opportunity to do business,” Khanna added.

He said the GCC network will include one rail line of 1,970km connecting all GCC countries and Qatar via a bridge. The second line of 1,984km will stretch between Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and end in Oman.

Following the completion of phase one of the Dubai Metro, rail projects in GCC have become a point of focus with multi-billion dollar investments being made by each Gulf state.

A $11bn network in the UAE will be rolled out over the next 7-8 years while Abu Dhabi has revealed plans for a new rail network serving the city of Al-Ain.

Abu Dhabi has also said it has plans for a 131km metro rail system which is expected to partially start in 2015.

Saudi Arabia is spending $25bn on its rail network adding 3,900km of track through three major projects. The kingdom has already begun work on four different railway projects.

A 1,500km railway line costing $14bn linking Kuwait’s border with Iraq, down the Gulf coast to the Omani port of Salah on the southern top of the Arabian Peninsula is on also mooted.

A metro light rail network is also planned in Doha while Bahrain is planning a $8bn railway project, Khanna said.

GulfRail 2012 will make its debut at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 17-19, 2012.