ZAWYA of October 30th, 2017 published this piece of information on the GCC rail network development completion postponement in the countries and its current progress status. The planned network per the local media was already hampered by not only financial difficulties as State budgets were tightened because of low oil prices but to also technical and bureaucratic obstacles prior to the 5 months old political crisis within the Gulf countries.
Alexander Cornwell, Reuters News
DUBAI – The United Arab Emirates (UAE) infrastructure minister said on Monday he expected a delayed rail project connecting nations across the Gulf to be operational by 2021, despite a regional political crisis that has divided some countries involved. The UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain cut ties with Qatar, including transport links, in June, accusing their neighbour of backing terrorism, a charge Doha denies. Two other Gulf Arab states, Kuwait and Oman, have remained neutral. Infrastructure Development Minister Abdullah Belhaif al-Nuaimi told Reuters that Gulf nations involved in the railway project were still aiming to complete the network by 2021.
“That is still the date,” he said. The planned 2,100 km (1,300 mile) passenger and cargo network connecting the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states was pushed back at least three years to 2021 before the political crisis erupted.
The UAE suspended construction of its portion of the network in 2016, while Oman said it would shift its focus to building its domestic network. “It’s going forward. We still have small hiccups here and there but the project, hopefully, is going forward,” Al-Nuaimi said without giving details on whether construction has resumed. Several projects across the region have been put on hold as Gulf oil producers struggle with low crude prices and rising budget deficits. The UAE network will span the country’s seven emirates from the Gulf of Oman to the Saudi and Omani borders. It would connect to Qatar through Saudi Arabia’s network. (Editing by Edmund Blair) ((Alexander.Cornwell@thomsonreuters.com;))