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A $3 billion railyway to link Oman, UAE — officials

By AFP - Sep 28,2022 - Last updated at Sep 28,2022

In this photo, Oman's Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq Al Said bids farewell to UAE’s President Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan after a visit to the Omani capital Muscat on Wednesday (AFP photo)

DUBAI — A new $3 billion railway is to link Oman's Sohar port with Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, officials said on Wednesday.

The 303 kilometre railway, with passenger trains travelling up to 200 kilometres per hour, will join up with the UAE's national network that is now under construction.

The joint venture between Oman Rail and the UAE's Etihad Rail was agreed during a visit by UAE President Mohamed Bin Zayed to the Omani capital Muscat.

"The railway... promises huge strategic economic and social gains," Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, Group CEO of Oman Rail's parent company Asyad, said in a statement issued by the Abu Dhabi government.

Sohar, a deep-sea port on the Gulf of Oman and itself a joint venture with the port of Rotterdam, bills itself as a nexus of trade between Asia and Europe.

No finish date was given for the project. A multibillion dollar railway linking the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries has languished since a feasibility study was approved in 2004.

When completed, Etihad Rail, the UAE network, will operate 1,200 kilometres of track connecting all seven emirates and the border of neighbouring Saudi Arabia, as well as Oman. 

Construction is 70 per cent finished, according to its website, although the first stage — a remote line transporting sulphur through the Abu Dhabi desert — began full operations in 2016. 

A spirit of competition between the emirates, which each have their own specialities and areas of interest, is seen as having slowed the project's progress.

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