GCC rail project to be completed by 2021, says UAE minister

GCC rail project to be completed by 2021, says UAE minister :A new ‘ceiling’ of 2021 has been set for the completion of the GCC Rail Network, UAE minister of infrastructure and development Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi said.

“At the meeting between the GCC states in Riyadh last year, we agreed in principle on the 2021 target for the completion of the GCC rail project,” he said, speaking in the media room at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. “Whether we are able to achieve that date will depend on the internal plans and execution of each country.”

Al Nuaimi also defended the regional progress of the mammoth GCC Rail Network, pointing out that although it was delayed, great progress had been made.

“The execution is a little behind, yes, but this is common with these large construction projects linking several different countries. It’s common in Europe as well,” he said.

“Etihad Rail has executed its plans independently of the GCC so by 2017 or 2018 we’ll have a clearer idea of whether the 2021 date is feasible. It could be raised beyond that date depending on what progress has been made across the six countries of the GCC.

“Our project is not on hold, our part of the project is complete. We’re now waiting to see whether the GCC states are as serious as us about launching a regional network.”

Speaking about the meeting held in April last year between the six GCC states to discuss the rail network, Al Nuaimi said the objective had been to get greater coherence as to the execution of rail projects in each country.

“The objective of that meeting was to get greater coherence in terms of where each of the GCC states are in terms of the implementation of the project. It makes no sense to build your network, if everyone else is several years from being able to launch it,” he said.

Al Nuaimi added however that the UAE’s share of the project is now on track for completion by 2018. “What we require on our side for linking to the GCC network is complete, so we’re now just waiting for the GCC countries to be ready for us to link with them.”

Al Nuaimi said that by 2017 or 2018 the UAE would have a clearer idea of whether the 2021 date is feasible.

“It could be raised beyond that date depending on what progress has been made across the six countries of the GCC. Our project is not on hold, our part of the project is complete. We’re now waiting to see whether the GCC states are as serious as us about launching a regional network,” he said.

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