Travellers shuttling between Saudi Arabia and neighbouring Oman will no longer need to cross the UAE when a road directly linking the two Gulf countries is completed in late 2013, according to Saudi and Oman officials.
The SR1.6-billion motorway will pass through the eastern Saudi province of Ihsa and the Rub Al Khali desert (Empty Quarter) past the UAE Ghuweifat border point and extend into Oman, where most of the road link has already between completed.
The road inside Oman is around 160km long while Saudi Arabia is carrying out a 519km long motorway.
Once they are linked together, passengers will be able to use the new road after Saudi and Oman sign a border crossing agreement.
“The new road will cut short the travel distance between Saudi Arabia and Oman by nearly 800km as passengers will no longer need to cross the UAE territory,” Saudi Transport Minister Jibara Al Suraisri said, quoted by the Saudi daily 'Okaz'.
He said the project would boost trade, investment and travel between Saudi Arabia and Oman, which are members of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) along with the UAE, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
In other remarks, an Omani official said most of the 160km road inside the Sultanate had been completed and that the remaining 10km link near the Saudi border would be carried out once a border crossing accord is signed between the two countries.
“The Oman-Saudi Arabia highway project will facilitate one border crossing point instead of four to benefit travellers from both the countries,” said Salim bin Mohammed Al Nuaimi, undersecretary of the Omani Ministry of Transport and Communication.
Thousands of passengers shuttle between Oman and Saudi Arabia every day, using part of Abu Dhabi’s territory near Ghuweifat, nearly 360km west of the capital and around 500km from the Saudi capital Riyadh.