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Lighthouse - March, 2016.

Oman Reconsidering its Involvement in GCC Rail Network

Oman is reportedly reconsidering its efforts towards the planned GCC rail network.

The country may instead focus on constructing its domestic rail network, owing to uncertainty over when the regional project will proceed, transport minister Ahmed Bin Mohammed Al-Futaisi said.

Worth $15.4bn, the GCC Rail project will span 2,117km across the region. However, technical and bureaucratic delays have reportedly delayed the development’s completion date past its original target of 2017.

Furthermore, low oil prices are contributing to a slowdown in government funding towards large-scale projects, including the GCC Rail. Last month, Etihad Rail suspended the tendering process for Stage 2 of the UAE’s railway network. The state-backed firm, which is behind the construction of a new UAE railway network, is reviewing options for the timing and delivery of the project’s second phase, according to a company statement.

Stage 2 of Etihad Rail involves the construction of a network in Abu Dhabi, connecting the Emirate’s borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman – as well as connecting other areas within the UAE. Futaisi said the suspension of Etihad Rail’s plans made it difficult for Oman to award a deal for its own track, despite being ahead of its GCC counterparts in designing its part of the overall network.

The minister said the rail network’s future might be discussed when GCC transport ministers hold their next meeting, most likely in October.

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