Manama: The 2,200 km-long railway network that will link the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states from Kuwait City to the Omani capital Muscat is already well underway, the GCC Secretary-General has said.
"The ambitious project will have a far-reaching impact on socio-economic development in the Gulf region," Abdul Lateef Al Zayani said at the GCC Days forum held in Kuwait.
The GCC said that the GCC Railway would be a regional integrated interoperable railway catering to its transport needs.
According to Bahrain's Ministry of Transportation and Communications, the rail network will link all six Gulf States and will serve as an alternative to air and sea travel for both cargo and passengers in the region.
"With an overall aim to unifying the region and enhancing people connectivity and freight movement, the project is also expected to contribute significantly to the region’s economic growth, development, and prosperity and in diversifying the transport supply, reducing overall transportation costs, and providing an efficient, environmentally-sound and cost-effective transport alternative," the ministry said.
“Tracks for Regional Peace”
As Al Zayani was highlighting the significance of the GCC Rail, Israeli Transportation and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz flew to Oman to attend an international transportation conference and present a plan to set up a rail link between Israel and the Gulf.
The Israeli initiative, called “Tracks for Regional Peace,” is supported by the US and other Western countries.
According to Israeli reports, the plan is based on "the planned extension of railway tracks in northern Israel, which would link Haifa’s seaport to Jordan’s rail network, which in turn would be linked with that of Saudi Arabia and countries."
The initiative would see the eastward extension of the Haifa-Beit She’an rail line to the Jordanian border and would include a stop in Jenin, in the northern West Bank, connecting the Palestinians to the broader plan, the reports said.
The Israelis hope that the full network will create a regional transportation system to enhance trade relations and promote peaceful coexistence.
None of the GCC countries – Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates- has diplomatic relations with Israel.
Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a surprise visit to Oman where he held talks with Sultan Qaboos.