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Emirates’ next ambition: lay down railway in desert
Gulf Arab states to be linked by rail system by 2017; $11 bln UAE railway seen boosting economic growth; Chinese, European companies to compete over contracts.
January 13, 2011 2:14 by Reuters
DIVERSITY & GROWTH
Also behind the rail network initiative are hopes that it will further diversify the UAE economy, which is heavily dependent on hydro-carbon revenues and was badly hit by the global financial downturn and Dubai’s 2009 debt crisis.
The economic case for the trans-Gulf rail network would strengthen if the GCC countries can agree on the specifics of the railway plan, and if political tensions which have hampered the construction of a causeway linking Qatar and Bahrain can be eased.
“Connecting the Landbridge to the Arabian Gulf will immensely add value to the GDP because it will transfer products either coming from the east side from India, China going to Europe through Saudi Arabia or vice versa coming from Europe going east,” al-Hokail said.
“I compare the Landbridge to the Suez Canal, connecting the Mediterranean to the Red Sea. This is connecting the whole island of Saudi Arabia. Locally, it will definitely change the demography of Saudi Arabia.”
($1=3.673 UAE Dirham)
(Reporting by Martina Fuchs; Additional reporting by Farah Master in Shanghai)