Governments of the Gulf Arab states are working on plans to establish a long-distance rail transport in the region and extend it across the Arabian Peninsula, a report published by Reuters said on Wednesday.
According to official figures, around $100 billion may be spent by 2020 on laying over 6,000 kilometres of track for both inter-city and a national line that will link all the states in the Gulf Cooperation Council: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain.
The project faces technical difficulties of a colossal scale, such as making six national rail systems compatible and building on the shifting sands of remote deserts.
The planners are banking on the success of the inter-GCC project that will have far-reaching effects on economies in the region. Experts believe it will cut their dependence on expensive road and air travel, boost trade and bring GCC states closer both in terms of economy and politics.
“It will undoubtedly transform the economies as any major piece of railway does,” said Keith Hampson, director of global rail transit at Aecom, a US-based transport planning firm.
“It opens up all sorts of trading relationships that probably otherwise would not have existed.”