Oman-Saudi road link to be ready for end of 2013
Empty Quarter route to boost trade between Oman & Saudi Arabia
The road-link project between Oman and Saudi Arabia, that will open up a direct trade route between the two countries, is expected to be completed by the end of 2013, reports Muscat Daily.
According to officials, the proposed road, which passes through the Empty Quarter, one of the biggest sand deserts in the world, will facilitate trade between Saudi Arabia and Oman and also pave the way for the economic development of Dhahirah region. Currently, Oman and Saudi Arabia are connected only via UAE for trade.
Speaking to Muscat Daily on the sidelines of the Economic Development Conference for the Dhahirah region at Crowne Plaza Muscat, Khalil al Khonji, chairman of Oman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OCCI), said that the road link was due to open in 2012 but has been delayed due to the nature of the soil.
"Through this conference, we are asking the government to build dry ports in the Ibri governorate, since most of the traffic and cargo will pass through the Empty Quarter once the road is opened. 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."
The Saudi portion of the project consists of a link from the Khorais-Bathaa road to the Omani border, via Shayba and Umm Zamoul.
Abdulrhman al Rashed, deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Oman, said: "We are facing difficulties due to the nature of the soil. But we are working to overcome the hurdle and the road is expected to be completed in the next five months."
The new road will enable direct trade between the two countries and avoid the need for transiting cargo through UAE, which results in additional delays and paperwork for truckers.