Muscat – The Sultanate of Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed a historic agreement on Wednesday to establish the first rail link between the two countries from Sohar to Abu Dhabi.
The 303km rail link between Sohar Port and Abu Dhabi will adopt the highest international safety and environmental standards while providing safe and fast services for passenger and freight transport.
H E Said Hamoud al Ma’awali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, has stated that the railway project will implement the strategic goals of the two countries.
The project will open vistas of social and economic integration due to the fact that it cements ties between Sohar Port and the UAE’s free zones and economic zones, H E Ma’awali added.
“In particular, the project is envisaged to play a major role in boosting the logistics sector and activating commercial exchange in the near future,” the minister said, noting that the rail link will achieve sustainable development at the economic and social levels and present a new model for cross-border transport.
According to H E Ma’awali, the project will serve to localise industry, as it links industrial estates, accelerates traffic of raw materials and provides an attractive milieu for investors and industrialists.
‘Landmark railway deal to be a game changer’
The announcement of the path-breaking deal sparked great interest among experts and citizens alike in the country.
“The railway will pave way for a new horizon of social and economic integration among the Gulf countries. The agreement lays out a strategic roadmap that will contribute to strengthening the solid relations between Oman and UAE,” said Khalfan al Touqi, an economic analyst.
He added that the project will facilitate fast movement of goods from Oman to UAE and provide a chance to promote Omani goods there. “It offers scope for great commercial exchange between the two countries in several sectors. The railway link will encourage the establishment of integrated service areas, hotels and rest houses which will be a boon for the local economy.”
Nasser al Hosni, director of Happy Line Transportation, said the project will contribute to achieving sustainable development at economic and social levels as well as provide a fast and efficient transport system that will enhance trade exchange and economic growth. “Railways can transport large quantities of goods and move a large number of passengers; this is going to be a game changer.”
The rail route will enhance commercial traffic between the sultanate’s ports and Jebel Ali Port in the UAE. “I believe that the new railway line will bring a boom in North Batinah and Buraimi and result in unprecedented growth in the region,” Hosni added.
The idea of the railway project started in 2011 and was revived in 2021 with the establishment of the of the GCC Railways Authority. “I think the agreement on Wednesday is an excellent step to strengthen ties between Arab countries and achieve Arab national security,” Touqi noted.
Trade exchange between Oman and the UAE amounted to RO5bn last year, Touqi informed, adding that it is expected to grow significantly in the coming years after the establishment of the railway. “The 16 agreements signed on Wednesday will stimulate economic activities between the two countries in a short time.”
Sultan al Rawahi, a citizen, said, “The railway will create job opportunities for many while stimulating tourism in Oman. I will look into setting up services along the rail route, such as fuel stations and hotels.”