Saudis and expats will be able to drive straight to Oman by the end of this year when a 592-km road linking the two GCC states is completed. The landmark project, which passes through the Empty Quarter — one of the largest deserts in the world — will cost SR 2 billion and will reduce the distance between the two countries from 2,000 km to 1,200 km. It will facilitate transport of Haj pilgrims, tourists and goods. "The Saudi-Oman road link is expected to be completed by the end of 2013," said Khalil Al-Khonji, chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The project, which was due to open in 2012, has been delayed due to the nature of the soil, he pointed out. "The Saudi section of the road has been delayed because of the soft soil and associated incremental project costs. The Oman section has reached completion, and we hope to open the link by the end of this year," Muscat Daily quoted Al-Khonji as saying. The road will boost trade and tourism between the two GCC neighbors and ensure quick delivery of products. "At present, a truck takes three to four days to reach Muscat from Jeddah.
The new road will reduce that period to one day or a maximum of two days," said Abdul Majeed, commercial manager of Falcon Freight. Saudi Arabia exports petrochemicals, foodstuffs, air conditioners, construction materials and other products to its GCC neighbor. The road is expected to boost Omani exports to the Kingdom as well. The delivery of a truck containing goods from Jeddah to Muscat now costs SR 3,500 including border charges, and from Riyadh SR 2,700, Majeed said.
"The new road will bring down transport charges by SR 700 to SR 1,000 per truck," he pointed out. At present Oman has only one border point with the UAE. Those who want to go to Oman from Saudi Arabia have to pass by the UAE. Diverted from the Khorais-Bathaa Road, the new road passes through Shayba and Umm Zamoul.