The six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) share many ties and bonds that have formed down through the centuries of living a common heritage and purpose in close geographical and indeed familial ties. Through trade and business, we have prospered together, working for common goals, sharing our common beliefs. The seas were the traditional mode of trade and travel. And the motor vehicles bonded us closer. And in the past four decades, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman have led the way for others when it comes to air travel.

Now, by 2021, the GCC has committed to laying ties of steel, and will bring mass rail transportation and cargo movement to the region. People and businesses of the UAE and Saudi Arabia will be linked by then through 2,100 kilometres of rail tracks that will unite as never before.

The advent of a mass railway network signifies a new threshold for progress. When the vast continent of the United States and the prairies and mountains of Canada were truly tamed, it was through railway networks that stretched from coast to coast, bringing people and goods and spurring economic growth as never before. So too India and its economic development.

Here, between the UAE and Saudi Arabia, there is one main coastal road link, and the development of a rail corridor will bring an end to delays there for the shippers of goods, materials, bulk cargo and foodstuffs. So too will passengers be able to travel freely, taking time to sit back, relax and look out across the vast swathes of desert and marvel at how man and engineering have managed to tame and thrive in a hostile environment. The train network will be environmentally friendly, too, having little if any impact on the lands it unites.

From the ports that have been developed along the Arabian Gulf, goods will flow readily, bringing even greater choice to the shelves at our stores. And businesses too will be able to export their manufactured products or import their raw materials, creating jobs and opportunity for all our peoples.

The UAE has 250kms of track in place already, Saudi Arabia is laying its tracks, while Bahrain and Kuwait are designing their portions.

In the coming months, kilometre by kilometre, bridge by bridge, cutting by cutting, the ties that will forever bind this region together by rail will be put in place, making for a historic achievement in which we all can participate, profit — and marvel.