Held under the auspices of His Highness Sayyid Shihab Bin Tariq Al Said, Advisor of His Majesty the Sultan and hosted by His Excellency Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Salim al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications in Oman, and, the GCC Rail and Metro Conference 2015 opened today in Muscat, Oman.
The event is being headlined by high-ranking government officials from the GCC States’ Ministries of Transport, Trade and Commerce, and Finance, alongside top executives from Etihad Rail, Saudi Railways Organization, Saudi Railway Company, Qatar Rail, and Oman Rail. More than 500 representatives from 25 countries will be present throughout the two day conference.
His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Salim Al Futaisi said: “Over $200 Billion will be invested in over 40 000km of rail across the GCC. This provides a good environment to attract companies, manufactures, human resources and capital to the region.
“Our challenge will not just be in how to ensure the success of executing these projects from a technical and operational point of view, but on how to exploit the socio-economic potential of these massive investments so to ensure the multiplier effect into our economies.”
On the conference’s first day, participants shared progress on project development and localization initiatives, and took part in dynamic panel discussions to address key issues, challenges and opportunities enabling effective private sector participation.
Speaking at the conference Eng. Faris Saif Al Mazrouei, Acting CEO Etihad Rail, said, “The market will get an extra sector in which to expand, providing opportunities for both the public and private sector. We are currently looking at the UAE, and are in stage one of testing and commissioning – things are moving ahead as planned.”
“The GCC rail project is one of a kind, ambitious and complex in nature,” said Dr Ramiz Al Assar, Resident World Bank Advisor, GCC for the Arab States of the Gulf. “It will link six member states as a regional transport corridor, further integrating with the national railway projects, deepening economic social and political integration, and it is developed from a sustainable perspective.”
Dr Rumaih M Al Rumaih, CEO of Saudi Arabian Railways (SAR), said, “SAR is building a massive network of 5000Km. Already 1,400Km is operational, with the ability to transport phosphate and bauxite from mines to the manufacturing facilities at the port in Ras Al Khair. Since the line became operational, we have transported more than 6.5 million tons of phosphate. The benefits of using the railway are tangible – we’ve saved 70% of the fuel that would have otherwise been consumed by trucks.”
He added that the impact on the environment is huge – there will be an estimated 50% reduction of C02 by using trains to transport goods.
Throughout the two-day conference, the speaking line-up includes His Excellency Dr. Abdul Latif bin Rashid Al Zayani, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf; His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Mohammed Salem Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, Sultanate of Oman; His Excellency Eng. Maryam Jumaan, Undersecretary for Land Transport, Ministry of Transport, Kingdom of Bahrain; H.E. Eng. Mohamed Khaled Al Suwaiket, General President, Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO); H.E. Abdulrahim Hasan Naqi, Secretary General, Federation of GCC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FGCC Chambers); Dr. Ramiz al Assar, Resident World Bank Advisor, Gulf Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf; Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih, CEO, Saudi Railway Company (SAR); Eng. Faris Saif Al Mazrouei, Acting CEO, Etihad Rail; Hamed Al Bashri, Deputy CEO, Qatar Rail; Eng. Abdulrahman Bin Salim Al Hatmi, CEO, Oman Rail; Mr. Nigel Ash, Managing Director, Network Rail Consulting; Mr. Omran Abdulkarem, Senior Account Executive, Transnet Engineering; Mr. Ed James, Director of Analysis, MEED Projects, and Mr. Philippe Citroen, Director General, UNIFE.