Top officials pose for a group photo after the meeting on Sunday. WAM
The Board of Directors of Oman Rail-Etihad Rail JV Company, a joint venture between Oman Rail, the developer and operator of the Oman national Rail Network, and Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, held its inaugural meeting in Dubai, two days after signing an agreement to form the company.
The signing ceremony took place on the sidelines of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to Oman.
The Board of Directors includes Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure; Said bin Hamoud Al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology of Oman; Sheikh Nasser Sulaiman Al Harthy, Acting Vice President of Operations Affairs at Oman Investment Authority and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Asyad Group; Saeed Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Etihad Rail Mobility; Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, Group CEO of Asyad Group, and Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail.
The Board members commended the wise leadership of the two countries for their unwavering support and strategic vision towards enhancing cooperation and joint action between the two countries across various fields. They also praised the leadership’s guidance and direction in the establishment of the joint venture to build and operate a railway network connecting Sohar Port with the UAE National Rail Network. They described it as an extension of the long-standing collaboration of the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE, as they both seek to create new prospects in the infrastructure, transport, and logistics industries by connecting the two countries via rail in a manner that promotes trade and social cohesion.
During the meeting, the Board of Directors discussed the implementation plans, including technical studies and architectural design, as well as environmental studies for routes, the business model and the commercial affairs of the joint venture.Emphasis was placed on the importance of fast-tracking the execution of the project. The Board also committed to adopting the highest global standards for security, safety, and sustainability throughout the development of the network, which will extend for 303 kilometres, to provide safe and fast passenger transport and freight services. The network will contribute to the growth of the two countries’ economies, and will improve the efficiency of supply chains whilst facilitating cross-border trade by linking commercial ports to the railway network.
The Board of Directors also appointed Ahmed Al Hashemi as CEO of Oman Rail-Etihad Rail JV Company, and Mohammed Bin Zahran Al Mahruqi as Deputy CEO.
Al Mazrouei said that establishing the joint venture was in line with both leaderships’ directives for achieving sustainable development by elevating the transport and infrastructure sectors to higher levels, whilst supporting economic and commercial growth.
“The joint railway network will advance the land transport system between the two countries in line with the best-in-class criteria and standards, providing safe, reliable, and sustainable transportation, which in turn, will further facilitate connectivity between industrial and commercial centres, and cement the long-standing social cohesion between the two countries,” he noted.
For his part, Al Maawali commented, “The strategic initiative to develop a railway network between the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE would cement the strong brotherly ties between the two countries and would also reflect their joint efforts to achieve social and economic integration.”
“Through this partnership and the logistics progress it will bring about, various economic and trade activities will reap several benefits, creating new opportunities and providing high-quality transport solutions that will contribute to establishing a connection between Sohar and the Omani free zone, with vital economic and industrial zones in the UAE,” he explained.
The US$3 billion railway network will contribute to the growth of the two countries’ national economies and improve the efficiency of supply chains whilst facilitating cross-border trade by linking commercial ports to the railway network.
Meanwhile, Etihad Rail, which is expected to carry over 60 million tonnes of freight and 36.5 million passengers by the year 2030, will transform the economic landscape of the country by connecting 11 major cities of the seven emirates. The national rail network of the UAE is expected to contribute to the country’s economy and sustainability, with the real estate sector leveraging the most benefits.
The proposed connectivity to GCC countries will also benefit the rising UAE property market. It aligns with the UAE’s economic goals and agenda, such as the UAE 2050 Net Zero Initiative and UAE Centennial 2071 project.
The 1200-kilometre-long project will play a pivotal role in bridging the gap between the seven emirates, making commutation easy for UAE residents, according to the Zoom Property Insights.
Ata Shobeiry, CEO at Zoom Property, said Etihad Rail will benefit the country in more than one way. “While it will certainly make commutation a breeze within the UAE, there will be a significant impact on the property markets across emirates as well. Communities and neighbourhoods located close to the Etihad Rail stations will record a price hike. Moreover, there will be an increase in rental value as well.”