Oman Rail, the sultanate’s national developer, has signed an agreement with UAE rail network developer Etihad Rail to set up a joint venture company, Oman-Etihad Rail Company, at a total investment of $3 billion, that will design, develop and operate a railway network connecting Sohar Port to the UAE national rail network.
Under this agreement, Oman-Etihad Rail will lay the groundwork and workplan for the project, including its financial mechanisms and schedule.
The company will also handle the design, development, and operation of the rail network, which connects Sohar and Abu Dhabi, in line with the standards of the two countries.
Built on the historic and strategic relations between the two countries, this major joint venture is an extension of the longstanding collaboration of Oman Rail and Etihad Rail, who both seek to create new prospects in the infrastructure, transport, and logistics industries by connecting the two countries via rail, said the statement from Oman Rail.
Oman Rail, part of Asyad Group, was represented at the signing ceremony by Engineer Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, the Group CEO of Asyad, and his counterpart Engineer Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail.
Underlining the impact of this landmark agreement, Al Hatmi said: "Adding a new railway capability to our logistics sector will offer trade and logistics companies outstanding investment opportunities and empower manufacturing and industrial activities to quickly expand beyond borders."
"The envisioned network will complement our comprehensive set of ports and logistics assets, augment our competitiveness and open faster access to global markets," he stated.
The 303-km railway will primarily link Sohar to Abu Dhabi and will feature the best international safety, security, and environmental standards, to provide faster and safer passenger and freight services.
The passenger trains are designed to reduce travel time from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to 1 hour 40 minutes, and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes, travelling at a maximum speed of 200 km/h. Meanwhile, the freight trains will run up to 120 km/h.
The two parties aim to unlock new opportunities by strengthening commercial exchange and social cohesion, connecting key urban centers, facilitating travel between communities and providing seamless transport solutions between economic and industrial zones in Oman and the UAE, he added.
On the economic benefits and opportunities, Al Hatmi said: "Employing cutting-edge transport and rail technology, the new Oman-UAE network will boost the growth of the national economy in both countries. It will also improve the efficiency of supply chain, facilitate cross-border trade by linking commercial ports to the railway network as well as enhance market competitiveness and cut the total cost of supply chains."
With multiple stakeholders set to reap the benefits of this mega project, the railway will provide a host of investment opportunities and support contracts to the private sector, stated the top Omani official.
The new transport system will create job opportunities across sectors, develop the national human capital of both countries and kick off a new age of innovation, he noted.
On a wider scope, the project will stimulate tourism activities between Oman and the UAE, strengthen the competitiveness of the two countries in global trade and solidify their positions as logistics hubs for import and export to regional markets, he added.
Malak said the new partnership with Oman Rail comes in line with the vision and directives of UAE's leadership heralding a new chapter of collaboration and prosperity between both countries.
"The agreement outlines a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project which will contribute to bolstering the solid relations between the UAE and Oman, and will play an instrumental role in facilitating national and regional trade by connecting the UAE national rail network with Sohar Port," he added.-TradeArabia News Service