Gulf oil producers are expected to pump nearly $16 billion into an ambitious project to construct a rail way linking them, one of the largest rail ventures in the world.
The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which control nearly 40 per cent of the world's extractable oil deposits, will complete a feasibility study in the first quarter of 2014, after which the project will be launched, according to a GCC official.
Around $4.5 billion will be invested in the construction of another causeway for the rail between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain while $11.5 billion could be spent on the building of the rail link between Saudi Arabia and the four other GCC members, said Ramiz Al Assar, World Bank adviser at the Riyadh-based GCC Secretariat.
Quoted by the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah, he said the GCC countries are still in the initial stage of preparing "detailed designs" for the project. But he added that the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the largest GCC members, have already constructed 200 km of rail road as part of the inter-GCC rail project.
"The feasibility study for this project will be fully completed in the first quarter of next year…afterwards, we expect the authorities in each GDC country to take the necessary decision to start implementing the project," he said.
The GCC groups the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman in a loose economic, defence and political alliance created in May 1981. The six members have already launched a landmark customs union and a common market while four of them–Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain–have formed a monetary union.
Officials believe the rail link would give a strong push to the common market and sharply increase inter-GCC trade and investment.