Yemen will launch a rail project worth $3.5 billion (Dh12.85bn) in July as part of plans to upgrade infrastructure in a country battling lawlessness, militancy and rebellion, an official said.
The 2,500km passenger and cargo network will run from the Saudi border along the Yemeni coast, passing through the main port of Aden, to Oman, where it will join a network linking the six GCC states.
Bidding for the main 2,000km coastal line begins in July after Yemen conducted a feasibility study with UN help for the railway so no construction work has yet begun, said Transport Minister Khaled Al Wazeer. Completion could be years away.
The government is in talks with several firms in Britain, Germany, Russia, India, the US and other countries and will offer the deal on a build-operate-transfer basis for 30 to 35 years, Wazeer said.
"We hope to find an investor, that would be the better. If we don't, then we would look for other opportunities and turn to international institutions," he said.
Wazeer said a second inner route would link the remote provinces of Shabwa, Maarib and Al Jawf.
"The population there will benefit from it, there will be development and this will end the economic problems," Wazeer said.
The GCC countries are spending more than $100bn on rail projects. The Gulf rail network will help the six nations create a model similar to Europe's high-speed railway system.
Yemen also intends to stick to an order for planemaker Airbus to buy 10 A320 aircraft worth $700 million, Wazeer said.
In another deal, Yemen is prequalifying five firms from France, Turkey, Malaysia and other countries for a deal to operate its two main airports in Sanaa and Aden, to be signed within two months, he said.
Yemen is also preparing a $500m contract to help operate the country's ports, Wazeer said.
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