A railway connection linking the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) is certain to bring important benefits to each member state. The idea of a unified railway network has been muted since 2008, and despite the increased political momentum, there remain doubts about whether each country will fulfil its role in the project.
An analysis by Railway Technology indicates that the project was to be commissioned and approved in December 2021. The agreement provides for shared responsibility among GCC members but analysts argue that the ability of each member to complete its role in the project varies considerably.
The project, with an estimated cost of $200 billion, entails a 2000 km rail line running from Kuwait's coast to Oman, with the aim of connecting it to the internal rail network of Saudi Arabia as well.
Challenges facing the project also include geographical, environmental and financial difficulties. Experts have argued that such mega rail projects are indeed costly but once finished, could reduce the cost of trade, increase the rate of cargo and bring greater economic returns than their construction.
In the case of the GCC, these benefits would be crucial in propelling the bloc towards creating a customs union and a common market, which has long been among its goals.
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Source: commonspace.eu with Al Hurra (Newington, VA) and Railway Technology (Manchester).
Picture: A UAE train that will carry passengers between Dubai and Abu Dhabi; Source: The National.