UAE to have rail link with Saudi Arabia by end-2021 - official

Federal Authority for Land and Marine Transport chief reveals date for major rail connection project
At full capacity, stage one of the Etihad Rail project is poised to transport more than seven million tonnes of granulated sulphur annually.
At full capacity, stage one of the Etihad Rail project is poised to transport more than seven million tonnes of granulated sulphur annually.

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The UAE will have a rail link with Saudi Arabia by the end of December 2021, it was reported on Monday.

Abdullah Salem Al Kathiri, director general of the Federal Authority for Land and Marine Transport, was quoted by Reuters as saying: "By the end of December 2021 we will have a connection between us and the Saudis."

His comments come just days after the UAE's Etihad Rail was reportedly set to issue tenders for phase 2 of its country-wide rail network project.

Phase 2 of the project will connect the UAE's sea ports and the project's first phase.

The announcement came as the 12th edition of Middle East Rail, the largest railway industry event across the Middle East, North Africa, South and Central Asian region, opened at Dubai International Convention Centre.

Delivering a keynote speech at the conference, Dr. Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Infrastructure Development and the Federal Transport Authority - Land & Maritime, stressed that the UAE has established itself as a global player in the transport infrastructure sector.

He pointed out that UAE Government has developed a clear vision as well as a carefully-planned strategy to play a leadership role in the field of rail transport infrastructure. This will be achieved through regional and international collaboration, developing and re-shaping policies, and enacting laws to promote efficiency as well as safety in this vital sector.

The planned 2,100km passenger and cargo network connecting the six Gulf states was pushed back at least three years to 2021.

In January 2016, it was announced that Etihad Rail had suspended the tendering process for stage 2 of the UAE's railway network as it reviewed the project investment.

Several projects across the Gulf have been put on hold as oil producers struggle with low crude prices.