The United Arab Emirates and Oman have inked a $3 billion deal to link the two GCC countries by passenger rail during the official state visit by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s president, to the Gulf country.
Passenger trains will connect Abu Dhabi with Sohar to the north of Muscat under the agreement between UAE’s Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, and Oman Rail, the Sultanate's national developer and operator of railway networks, which will see the two entities jointly establish an equally-owned company, Oman-Etihad Rail Company.
The newly created entity will hold an overall investment power of US$3 billion to design, develop and operate a railway network connecting Sohar Port to the UAE National Rail Network, the UAE's state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.
The much-anticipated 303-km railway will primarily link Sohar to Abu Dhabi. The passenger trains are designed to reduce travel time from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to 1 hour 40 minutes, and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes, travelling at a maximum speed of 200 km/h. Meanwhile, the freight trains will run up to 120 km/h.
Shadi Malak, chief executive of Etihad Rail, said that the agreement “lays out a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project that will contribute to strengthening the solid relations between the UAE and Oman.”
Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, group CEO of ASYAD, Oman’s global integrated logistics service provider, said: “Adding a new railway capability to our logistics sector will offer trade and logistics companies outstanding investment opportunities and empower manufacturing and industrial activities to quickly expand beyond borders. The envisioned network will complement our comprehensive set of ports and logistics assets, augment our competitiveness and open faster access to global markets.”
The railway, he said, also promises huge strategic economic and social gains as it promotes a more diverse, robust national economy, upgrades infrastructure and logistic services, drives forward travel and tourism, and ultimately improves the quality of life for communities on both sides of the borders by supporting the various strategic initiatives of the governments of Oman and the UAE.
The railway will also provide investment opportunities and support contracts to the private sector. The new transport system will create job opportunities across sectors, develop the national human capital of both countries and kick off a new age of innovation, WAM reported.
Earlier this month, Etihad Rail has revealed that headway is continuing on the UAE’s mega national network project after connecting a major freight terminal to the network's main line.
The project – which will link the country’s trade, industry and population- is rapidly progressing.
About 70 percent of the line has already been constructed and, once completed, is expected to carry millions of passengers annually between the country’s major cities by 2030.
In June, Etihad Rail announced its first passenger train station will be located in Fujairah and will connect 11 regions across the United Arab Emirates once completed.
It will allow passengers to travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes, and from Abu Dhabi to Fujairah in 100 minutes. No start date for the passenger service has been made public to date.
The first phase of the Etihad Rail has been fully operational since 2016, with opportunities to expand beyond the borders of the UAE.
On Tuesday, Sheikh Mohamed met with Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, the Sultan of Oman, in the Omani capital of Muscat during his two-day state to the Gulf country as the two leaders spoke of the historical bonds between the two nations and discussed ways to strengthen ties.
Sheikh Mohamed and the Sultan discussed opportunities for building upon the growing economic ties between the UAE and Oman and areas where the two nations can increase collaboration, including the investment, financial, industrial and cultural sectors.
Their talks centered around the two leaders’ shared vision for a secure and stable region that promotes sustainable development and supports a thriving economy where people can realize their full potential.
More than a dozen agreements have been signed between the two countries during the state visit, including areas of cooperation in the fields of youth development, energy, communications, logistics, transport and maritime transport, and deals to tackle crime and money laundering.
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