Podcast: Is construction in the GCC rail sector on track?

Railway projects are gathering pace in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but similar schemes in Bahrain and Kuwait have faced delays – what's next for the GCC?

Work on the UAE's Etihad Rail has progressed this year [image: etihadrail.ae].
Work on the UAE's Etihad Rail has progressed this year [image: etihadrail.ae].

Railway projects are gathering pace in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but similar infrastructure schemes in Bahrain and Kuwait have faced delays – so, is rail on track in the Middle East?

In the latest episode of Construction Week Viewpoint, Oscar Rousseau and Jack Ball, deputy editor and senior reporter of Construction Week, dissect the progress on high-profile projects, such as Dubai Metro’s Route 2020 and Saudi Arabia’s Makkah to Madina high-speed Haramain rail infrastructure initiative.

The team also asks if Bahrain and Kuwait can overcome the stalls, delays, and bureaucratic obstacles that have slowed down progress on these schemes.

Construction progress has reportedly picked up steam after news emerged that Kuwait had started building a 111km line, following “technical and bureaucratic obstacles”, according to a report by Construction Week’s sister title, Arabian Business.

READ: UAE and Saudi Arabia lead GCC rail, metro construction schemes

Work is set to commence in Q4 2019 for Bahrain’s light rail system, which was initially halted amid a financial crisis.

The picture is much brighter for the UAE and Saudi, both of which are making swift progress. Saudi Arabia's Haramain project was due to start operations in Q3 2018, and work on the viaducts for Dubai's Route 2020 will end in November this year.

Construction Week Viewpoint is a weekly podcast series examining the most important issues impacting the Middle East's construction sector. As the podcast's episodes span 15 minutes, they provide bite-sized facts and exclusive perspectives on the biggest business determinants for construction leaders – from dispute resolution and the decline of fatalities on site, to solar energy projects, and smart city concepts.

You can listen to a new podcast episode every Monday at noon to learn more about the biggest issues in the business. In previous episodes of the podcast, the CW team has looked at why Saudi Arabia is in a race to build more hospitals, and why saving the UAE's architectural heritage is more important than ever before. The team has also examined the reasons behind the continued development of oil and gas megaprojects amid widespread energy diversification plans.

In addition to our weekly podcast series, a behind-the-scenes video of the podcast recording can be found on Construction Week's YouTube channel.

Please remember to subscribe to our YouTube and SoundCloud accounts to stay up-to-date with the latest on Middle East construction.

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Jun 29, 2020