Saudi Arabia, Jordan to invest US $705m in Aqaba railway and hinterland
Saudi Arabia and Jordan have agreed on a joint investment in the Aqaba railway project of US $750-million, which will boost the port of Aqaba’s hinterland infrastructure and speed up the evacuation of cargo into the interior.
The railway project includes a connection to a planned dry port in the Ma’an governorate, according to a joint statement.
The statement added that the MoU was agreed between the Saudi Jordanian Investment Fund and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority.
The Jordan-Saudi fund was formed in 2016 as a partnership between the Saudi Public Investment Fund, which holds a 90 percent stake, and 16 Jordanian banks that own the rest.
Aqaba is Jordan’s only commercial port and is located four hours by road (324 kilometres) from Amman, the economic and political capital of the country.
Upon completion, the railway will operate along a 195-kilometer track, transporting cargo containers to and from Aqaba, as well as phosphate from the mines in Shidiya for export.
The dry port at Ma’an could serve as a future logistics hub for the country, with its more central location, and could potentially be connected the Saudi Railway network in the future.
Jordan is in dire need of foreign investment of this kind.
The International Monetary Fund, which is backing Jordan with a $700 million loan, last month said “international donor support is more important than ever” for the country following talks between Managing Director Christine Lagarde and Prime Minister Omar Al-Razzaz.
The Saudi fund’s first major investment in Jordan follows pledges of US $2.5 billion from wealthy allies to support the monarchy in the face of large-scale protests last year.
Jordan, which shares a border with Saudi Arabia, has for decades relied on aid from the U.S and oil-rich Gulf nations to prop up its economy, but has struggled after the influx of 1.5 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees further strained the country’s finances.