UAE largest investor in rail infrastructure with $26.8bn projects

A train station in Riyadh. The feasibility study for the GCC rail network is under way. (AFP)

The UAE continues to remain the largest investor in rail infrastructure with projects worth $26.79 billion (Dh98.4bn) either being planned, designed or under construction.

A total of $113.5bn worth of rail infrastructure projects are currently being either planned or under construction in the GCC, according to statistics released by Ventures Middle East.

Saudi Arabia stands second in the list of countries in the on GCC with rail projects worth $19.28bn.

Meanwhile according to a media report tenders for the GCC's proposed $25bn regional rail network are set to be floated in Q1 2010.

Up to five companies are being shortlisted for the tender said a report published in Arabic newspaper Al Ittihad quoting Mohammad bin Obeid Al Mazroui, GCC Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs.

The reports also indicate that either a single company or a consortium would be chosen for the execution of the project.

The GCC states will be linked with a 2,117km long network, starting in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia before construction of the lines finally linking Bahrain, Qatar and the UAE.

The project is expected to be operational by 2017.

Contractors in the region are hopeful that the increase in infrastructure spending by the GCC countries would greatly benefit the sector, which is slowly emerging out of the slowdown. The UAE alone awarded contracts worth $5.31bn in 2009 and plans to spend more than a $100bn in infrastructure related projects during the coming years.

Meanwhile, several rail projects have also gone on hold during the past 12 months. A study by the Kuwait Financial Centre said plans to develop highways investing nearly $14.5bn have been cancelled, apparently due to lack of funds in the wake of global financial crisis.

The supply-side analysis of expected investments indicates that the GCC countries could see investments totalling $109bn – based on the announced projects in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait and the pan GCC project, the report added.

The infrastructure report stated: "Railways, as a sector, never really made inroads in the GCC. However, the GCC countries' growing population is increasing demand for transport infrastructure."

 

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