GCC private sector seeks share of rail project

Representatives of the private sector in six Gulf hydrocarbon producers will meet with government officials in Oman next month to discuss how to get a share of a major regional rail network project that will be dominated by foreign contractors, a Saudi newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The rail network, traversing the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), will cost more than USD 15 billion and is expected to be commissioned in 2018.

“The conference will bring together representatives from the GCC secretariat and the chambers of commerce and industry…it will focus on how the GCC private sector will benefit from the rail project,” the Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting Mohammed Al Ansi, transport committee deputy chairman at Oman’s chamber.

“The conference is an initiative by the Omani transport ministry…officials attending the conference will discuss the private sector’s participation in this major project.”

Al Ansi did not specify the conference’s date but said it would be preceded by a meeting of government officials in Muscat this week.

He said Oman would begin awarding contracts for its part of the rail network in 2015, adding that the train project would be extended later to encompass Yemen.

“We have already received letters from the GCC officials asking us to identify our role in the train project which will be executed by major global companies…they want to know what investments the private sector can make in this project and what opportunities are to be given to national contractors and sub-contractors,” he said.

GCC states—Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE – have approved the train project which involves the construction of a 2,117-km railway starting from Kuwait and passing through the eastern Saudi port of Dammam, then Qatar and Bahrain. It will then link Saudi Arabia to the UAE, which will be connected to Oman through the northeastern Sohar town.

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