Middle East Rail conference to breathe life into pan-GCC network
Over 350 construction and engineering companies, regional and international railway operators are expected to participate and offer their services for future systems. (Twitter/Middle East Rail)
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The project timeline for the $200 billion (Dh734 billion) GCC railway network that will link all six countries in the region can still meet its 2021 target despite fluctuations in oil prices in the world market.
This was confirmed to Khaleej Times by Dr Abdulla S. Al Katheeri, director-general, of the Federal Transport Authority (FTA) - Land and Maritime, on Tuesday at a Press conference announcing the 11th edition of Middle East Rail that will be held on March 7-8 at the Dubai International Convention.
In January 2016, Etihad Rail suspended the tendering process for phase two of the UAE portion of the project and the deadline was pushed back to 2021 from 2018.
"The 2021 target is a recommendation and there is a big coordination at the ministerial level to achieve this project timeline and to ensure inter-operability and avoid fragmentation. The UAE is advanced compared with other GCC countries in terms of achieving the deadline but everyone are on the same page," Al Katheeri said.
"Even if the oil prices are fluctuating, the amount of projects we are talking about at the railway summit is huge," he added.
According to a report produced by Terrapinn Middle East, the value of total GCC rail projects in pipeline stands at over $240 billion (Dh880.8 billion) with $69 billion (Dh253.23 billion) worth of projects currently under construction. In terms of overall expenditure on rail, Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the UAE remain atop all of the GCC. As of January 2017, KSA had registered the highest rail construction project value of 50 per cent, followed by the UAE and Qatar at 18 and 17 per cent respectively.
Abu Dhabi invested Dh40 billion to Etihad Rail project that will link major industrial zones, cities and ports in the UAE, and will eventually connect with the GCC railway.
According to organisers, Middle East Rail 2017 "will deliver an unprecedented conference, hosting over 800 c-level executives representing $352 billion worth of rail projects in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
Over 350 construction and engineering companies, regional and international railway operators are expected to participate and offer their services for future systems.
Expected to speak are global thought leaders, including Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, UK; Henrik Hololei, director general - Mobility and Transport, European Commission; Howard Smith, operations director at Crossrail, UK and Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, USA . Key exhibitors include: Etihad Rail, X Rail, Greenbrier, Hyperloop, Thales, RATP DEV, CAF, AECOM, Network Rail, Autodesk and more.
Dr. Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Minister of Infrastructure Development and chairman of the FTA, said: "Middle East Rail has grown from strength to strength over the past decade and we are truly proud to play a lead role in bringing together ministers, thought leaders, innovators, and policymakers under one roof to coordinate progress in the rail industry as a whole.
"The show demonstrates our support and commitment to build a world-class transport infrastructure system in the region. Furthermore, we look forward to our continued work with Etihad Rail, which will boost economic and trade ties between the GCC states," Al Nuaimi added.
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