Abu Dhabi: The GCC countries are forging ahead with railway projects worth $106.2 billion (Dh390 billion), new research has revealed in the build-up to next month's CityBuild Construction Summit in Abu Dhabi.
Saudi Arabia leads the way with a total of 23 projects valued at $25.6 billion, including the $6 billion Makkah-Madinah Railway Link which is currently under tender for construction.
In the UAE, eight railway projects valued at $20.6 billion are under way, including the $11 billion Emirates Railway Project on which construction begins in the middle of this year.
Meanwhile, Qatar is investing heavily in its transport infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 Football World Cup. The $25 billion Qatar National Rail Scheme will link to the GCC Railway network — the $30 billion, 2,200 km system that will connect all six GCC states by 2017.
Highlighting enormous opportunities for suppliers of construction products, the latest figures have been released by market research specialists Ventures Middle East ahead of the CityBuild Construction Summit.
This runs alongside CityBuild Abu Dhabi, the region's premier exhibition for construction products, taking place from April 17-20 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
Other major regional railway development also under way include Kuwait's National Rail Road Network and Metro System worth a combined $17 billion, Oman's National Freight and Passenger Railway valued at $10 billion, and Bahrain's Rapid Transport Network at an estimated $8 billion.
Experts set to address the CityBuild Construction Summit will spotlight the growing significance of rail travel in the region and the huge business opportunities available.
"The rail and transit market has never been stronger in the Middle East," said Tom Topolski, Vice-President of Transportation Middle East for AECOM, one of the summit speakers.
"The rapid industrialisation of the region has created significant freight rail opportunities."
AECOM is a global provider of professional technical and management support services, and Topolski will pinpoint ways to capitalise on new market opportunities on the second day of the CityBuild Construction Summit. The event features more than 30 speakers, 21 focused conference sessions, and four interactive workshops, including one hosted by Masdar City.
The opening day of the Summit will feature a ‘Leaders in Construction Series' address by a keynote panel whose members include Fatima Al Jabr, Chief Operating Officer of Al Jaber Group, the Abu Dhabi-based construction, heavy lifting and logistics specialists.
Underlining the importance of the Summit she said: "Railway transportation is a large initiative and an additional sector that presents a huge area of opportunity in the Middle East."