GCC leaders have agreed to a new “ceiling” of 2021 to complete the mammoth Gulf Railway project, a senior Emirati official has said.
According to Gulf News, the UAE’s minister of infrastructure and development Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi told reporters about the pushed-back deadline this week.
When asked if falling oil prices and budget cuts played a role, he responded, “I wouldn’t say no.”
Referring to a discussion leaders held in April about the rail, Al Nuaimi added:
“The objective of that meeting was to get greater coherence in terms of where each of the GCC states are in terms of the implementation of the project.
It makes no sense to build your network, if everyone else is several years from being able to launch it,” he said.
The first phase of Qatar’s contribution to the network includes a 143km rail line to Saudi Arabia’s border.
Qatar Rail floated tenders for a company to oversee the project last summer, but later said that it had to hit the pause button amid uncertainty.
Speaking to Doha News in March, Qatar Rail’s managing director Abdulla Al Subaie said his company was effectively in a holding pattern:
“From our side, as Qatar Rail, we are ready. We need other GCC countries to start the work in order to be able to to start our contract,” he said.
According to Qatar Rail’s website, the long distance rail will connect different parts of the country for freight purposes. It will also provide links to both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
The five main lines include:
- A freight line from Mesaieed Port to Ras Laffan;
- A mixed line (passenger and freight) from Doha to Dukhan;
- A mixed line from Doha to Al Shamal;
- A mixed line from Doha to Saudi Arabia; and
- A high-speed passenger line from Doha to Bahrain.
When completed, the entire 2,100km rail project will stretch from Kuwait to Oman.