The ROP has carried out a trial operation of the border post linking Oman and Saudi Arabia to ensure all facilities and procedures are in place to welcome commuters and vehicles.
With the road construction work completed last year, and border check post operations under trial run, it is expected that the new highway will open for public very soon. Lt Gen Hassan bin Mohsen al Shuraiqi, Inspector General of Police and Customs, visited the border post to see the progress of the project. He was reassured of successful operations.
He stressed on the need to simplify procedures to ensure smooth flow of traffic and cargo. H E Ahmad Hilal al Busaidi, Oman’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia was quoted in October 2015 as saying that construction of the road had been completed and the two countries were building the administrative infrastructure including immigration posts and check points. “This has delayed the inauguration of the road project,” said the diplomat, adding that this will be the first overland direct link between the two countries.
Although initially expected to open in 2014, the highway construction got delayed on the Saudi side because of extreme weather and topography posing challenges. The highway cuts through the moving sands of Rub al Khali, or the Empty Quarter.
The road on the Oman side is around 160km long, starting from Tanam in Ibri, passing through oilfields, until it reaches the border with Saudi. Inside Saudi Arabia, the road comprises a 247km stretch from the Omani border to the Shaybah Oil Field owned by Saudi Aramco, and the 319km stretch from Shaybah to the Batha-Haradh road, which leads to Al Kharj and then to Riyadh. As the road runs through no-man’s land, and is mostly desolate where telecommunications network is poor and a flat tyre could mean being stranded in no man’s land, the contract stipulates that the road must be monitored for one year after its completion.
This will involve crews driving up and down the length of the highway with graders to clear the shifting sand. In addition, the stakeholders must provide spare parts and technical assistance to vehicles that run into difficulties along the route due to the region’s unpredictable weather conditions. In 2011, Galfar Engineering and Contracting was awarded the contract to build the border complex.