A $15 billion railway connecting the Gulf States is expected to begin operating in 2023, following almost twenty years of stalling and uncertainty, Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah has revealed.
The Gulf Railway will connect the Gulf Cooperation Council member states. The first phase to be completed will connect Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. The second phase is intended to be completed by 2025, and will link Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain.
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The project was first announced back in 2001 and approved in 2009. It is planned to facilitate and enhance trade between the GCC states in order to strengthen economic ties. Despite this, GCC member Qatar was not mentioned in the news report. Its part in the railway project is as yet unknown, although it is suspected that it will be minimal or left out completely due to the economic blockade and boycott imposed since 2017 on the small Gulf state by its GCC neighbours, led by Saudi Arabia.
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This is not the first major railway project planned to run through the Gulf region to be announced in recent years. Last year, for example, plans were unveiled for another railway to connect Israel to the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and the UAE, based on the increasing normalisation of relations between them.