Slowdown not the end of the line for GCC Rail
The slowdown in the rail sector will only promote larger opportunities for alternative investments in growth markets
While there is consensus that GCC countries are facing strong headwinds with their national transport plans and aims to meet the 2018 deadline for the timely completion of a railway network that connects the six members, an industry conference organizer sees the situation as a growth opportunity.
Speaking about the completion of the GCC rail project, H.E. Dr. Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority said: Now for us we cannot go any further, we don’t want to have a redundant network where we are cut off. Now, we have to wait for a realistic programme to continue with the progress.”
“If anything, the slowdown in the rail sector will only promote larger opportunities for alternative investments in growth markets,” said Jamie Hosie, Project Director at ME rail.
ME rail will occupy nearly 18,000 square meters of space at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and host 300 exhibitors from March 8-9, 2016.
Having established strategic relationships with many operators across the region, Hosie indicated that individual GCC countries are “clearly moving ahead with agreed mandates to build their domestic networks.”
“Oman recently announced it was not going to stop with its plans to complete their national network and connect to the UAE, the same can be said across the GCC as well.”
He added that the UAE is committed to complete the extension of metro stations in line with Expo 2020’s key theme of “Future of Mobility” and Saudi is driving towards becoming a “leader in mass transit” in large cities like Jeddah and Riyadh.
Hosie said the oil price slump is driving growth in non-oil related markets with international capital flowing in the form of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) or Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs) to take the pressure off strained state budgets.
“The current GCC mind-set is geared towards building smart metropolises in line with innovative cities like Hong Kong, Singapore, New York and London,” said Hosie.
“Going forward, we anticipate private sector participation through PPPs or PFIs for regional freight, high speed rail and public transport initiatives.”
Reports had emerged today quoting Al Nuaimi as saying that the GCC network will require a realistic program to proceed with it.
Building and connecting the GCC network will have its share of discussions at the ME Rail.
“ME Rail will see anywhere from 12-16 Ministers of Transport from the league of Arab states presenting their ideas, strategies and progress reports,” said Hosie.
“Unifying the regulatory frameworks is a hot topic and focused discussions at the event will aim to harmonize legislative frameworks in the GCC to ensure uninterrupted service once the network is in place.”