The UAE aims to complete its national railway segments from Fujairah to Al Ghuwaifat on the border of Saudi Arabia by the end of 2022 as it looks to bolster its economic competitiveness and decline carbon emissions, Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, has said.
“We will be completing the linkage from Fujairah to Ghuwaifat on the borders with Saudi Arabia by the end of next year,” Al Mazrouei told The National on the sidelines of the Middle East Rail exhibition in Dubai on Tuesday.
Last month, Etihad Rail said that construction work for the 139-kilometre package A of stage two and its connection through Al Ghuwaifat with stage one, which extends 264 kilometres from Habshan to Al Ruwais, was completed two months before schedule.
When complete, the railway network will link the main centres of population and industry in the UAE and will form a vital part of the railway network across the Gulf region, connecting the seven emirates of the UAE to five neighbouring GCC countries.
The UAE, already one of the world’s largest logistics and transportation hubs, is working on connectivity between its ports, airports and manufacturing hubs to boost freight volumes, enhance its logistics sector and facilitate trade.
The focus on logistics comes as the UAE seeks to diversify its economy away from oil and boost alternative revenue streams. Its 1,200km national railway is part of wider plans to connect with the networks of other Gulf countries.
Asked about the time frame for linking the UAE and Saudi Arabia by rail for the transport of goods and passengers in the broader GCC rail network, Mr Al Mazrouei said that the kingdom is “working very hard” on segments of its own national railway network.
“We are looking at the engagement between the [rail] operators themselves having that discussion and we hope that together we can establish that linkage as soon as possible,” he said, without providing a timeline for the UAE-Saudi Arabia link.
Etihad Rail will help the UAE achieve its target for net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 as it provides an alternative to vehicles to move goods.