A landmark agreement signed between the UAE and Oman will see the establishment of a railway network that will cut travel time between the two countries — to as short as 47 minutes.
Etihad Rail — the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network — has inked a deal with the Sultanate's Oman Rail to jointly establish an equally owned company, which will be called Oman-Etihad Rail Company.
With an investment of more than Dh11 billion, this upcoming infrastructure will connect Oman's Sohar Port to the UAE's rail network.
Spanning 303km, the railway will feature state-of-the-art passenger trains that will be travelling at a maximum speed of 200kph. This will slash travel time from Sohar to Abu Dhabi to one hour and 40 minutes, and from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes. Meanwhile, freight trains will run up to 120kph.
The agreement was signed by Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, and Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, group CEO of Asyad.
The Abu Dhabi Government Media Office made the announcement in a tweet:
Under this agreement, the new company will lay the groundwork and workplan for the project, including its financial mechanisms and schedule. It 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 UAE and Oman, this major joint venture is an extension of the longstanding collaboration between Oman Rail and Etihad Rail – both of whom seek to create new prospects in the infrastructure, transport, and logistics industries by connecting the two countries via rail.
The two parties aim to unlock new opportunities by strengthening commercial exchange and social cohesion, connecting key urban centres, facilitating travel between communities and providing seamless transport solutions between economic and industrial zones in Oman and the UAE.
Employing cutting-edge transport and rail technology, the railway network between the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE will boost the growth of the economy in both countries. It will also improve the efficiency of the supply chain, facilitate cross-border trade by linking commercial ports to the railway network, boost market competitiveness and reduce the total cost of supply chains.
The railway will provide investment opportunities and support contracts to the private sector. 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.
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.
Malak said this agreement outlines a strategic roadmap for a sustainable project that will bolster 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.
Al Hatmi, in turn, stated, "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."
The railway, he said, also promises huge strategic economic and social gains as it promotes a more diverse, robust national economy, upgrades infrastructure and logistic services, drives forward travel and tourism, and ultimately improves the quality of life for communities on both sides of the borders by supporting the various strategic initiatives of the governments of Oman and the UAE.