What is the latest update with regards to Oman's participation in the GCC rail network?
AL-FUTAISI: The railways network is a GCC initiative. The plan is to have this project operational by 2018 and Oman, like other countries, has the full commitment to do so. We have formed teams and technical experts to start developing the project as a whole. We have finished the alignments, the specifications, and we have also deiced on the energy to be used. The cities, the capacity, and the speed have been identified. The strategy will be to have preliminary designs be completed in 2013 and to start the construction soon after that. By 2013, we will have the tenders coming in for the design and operation of this project. This project will be a game changer for our logistics businesses, for our economic development, and for our social interactions with the neighboring countries. The railway will open great opportunities for our ports to have a direct link with all the GCC countries. It is also a great opportunity for people to interact and to travel between here and the GCC. Oman is a very attractive tourism country and the railway will allow many visitors from the GCC countries to come and visit us. We have very high expectations and very high hopes that this project will have a great positive impact on the economy.
There are challenges since we have not had railways, even though it’s an old and establish system. Oman has mountains and deserts, and it won’t be easy to have the railway go through them. Furthermore, people are very used to traveling by car or by airplane. This project will introduce them to a new model of transport and the transition might not be easy.
The railway project, along with many other development projects in Oman, brings great opportunities for foreign investors and companies to become our partners in these developments. We need contractors, consultants, specialized companies, and managers to bring these major ambitious plans up-to-date for the future of Oman. The Sultanate has a very strong transparent system with steady growth, which is good for the investors. Furthermore, companies should establish long term presence in the country, rather than executing only one project. I would also like to take the opportunity to invite such developers, investors, and specialized companies to participate and be our partner in the exiting development of Oman’s infrastructure.
The strategy will be to have preliminary designs be completed in 2013 and to start the construction soon after that. By 2013, we will have the tenders coming in for the design and operation of this project. This project will be a game changer for our logistics businesses, for our economic development, and for our social interactions with the neighboring countries.