S/L – Gulf Railways Authority will enhance economic integration among GCC countries: Experts
Muscat – Following approval to set up Gulf Railways Authority at the 42nd Gulf Cooperation Council summit held in Riyadh earlier this month, citizens and experts alike have welcomed the decision.
The final statement following the summit stressed the importance of realising the economic visions of the GCC countries to achieve economic diversification and maximise the benefit of their economic potential. The statement highlighted opportunities to boost joint investments by developing the integration of road, rail and communications networks among the GCC countries.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Nasser al Hosni, a businessman, said, a railway project between the GCC countries will reduce distances, travel time and transportation cost. It will make Duqm a gateway for huge investments from China and also other countries.
“It will also help revitalise tourism and encourage the establishment of tourism and entertainment projects in all GCC countries. A railway project can be easily set up because the terrain between the GCC states is not rugged,” Hosni said.
He expects the project to facilitate opening of new markets, attract investors from other countries, and encourage Gulf investors to increase investments in the these countries. It will also support industries in the Gulf by facilitating and increasing the movement of import and export products between the countries of the council and the world.
Expressing gratitude for the decision on the Gulf Railways Authority, Ali Hamad al Shayadi, a teacher, said it was long overdue. A pan-GCC railway network will strengthen economic and social ties between the people of the Gulf countries, he noted. “The project will increase commercial traffic and support the Gulf economies after losses and stagnation due to the epidemic and low oil prices.”
According to Dr Waddah al Sibani, director of Financial Affairs at Sultan Qaboos University, establishment of the Gulf Railways Authority is vital as it will ease movement of people and trade, besides boosting tourism and creating opportunities for job seekers among the GCC countries.
Sibani said, most significantly, a GCC railways network will strengthen social ties among people of the Gulf.
Khalfan al Touqi, an economic analyst, described the establishment of the Gulf Railways Authority as a “very important step”.
He informed that the GCC has made concerted efforts to establish a unified railway network since 2012. “There were great challenges in the establishment of the project, including the drop in oil prices, political crises and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to Touqi, the Gulf Railways Authority will enhance economic and customs integration among the GCC countries, increase trade and reduce cost of goods transport.
Plans to set up a metro
The Oman National Spatial Strategy (ONSS) includes plans to set up a metro network that will connect Ruwi and Muttrah to Muscat International Airport and Seeb.
The metro will be one of the main transport arteries of a new, revitalised Muscat, which will have Ghala as the centre of its commercial activities.
ONSS is a blueprint for the urban plan of the sultanate’s cities for the next 20 years.
Alongside the metro, revised transportation plans include a passenger rail service that will connect Seeb to Sohar, the main hub of North Batinah governorate, providing easier access to the towns in between.