Oman and the United Arab Emirates signed this week a landmark $3 billion passenger railway agreement, exemplifying the strong economic relationship between the two Gulf countries.
The newly-created joint Oman-Etihad Rail Company will connect Sohar and Abu Dhabi thereby enabling “new opportunities by strengthening commercial exchange and social cohesion, connecting key urban centers, facilitating travel between communities and providing seamless transport solutions between economic and industrial zones in Oman and the UAE,” according to a press release from Oman Rail and Etihad Rail.
The railway, which will be more than 188 miles, will allow both freight and passenger trains with the latter lasting a trip of 1 hour and 40 minutes from Sohar to Abu Dhabi and from Sohar to Al Ain in 47 minutes. The passenger trains will travel at a maximum of just over 124 miles per hour and freight trains at a top speed of almost 74 miles per hour.
Eng. Abdulrahman Salim Al Hatmi, chief executive of Asyad Group, which, according to its website, is Oman’s $4 billion “global integrated logistics service provider,” explained the benefits this rail line will have for Oman and the UAE.
“Adding a new railway capability to our logistics sector will offer trade and logistics companies outstanding investment opportunities and empower manufacturing and industrial activities to quickly expand beyond borders,” he said. “The envisioned network will complement our comprehensive set of ports and logistics assets, augment our competitiveness and open faster access to global markets.”
“The railway also promises huge strategic economic and social gains as it promotes a more diverse robust national economy, upgrades infrastructure and logistic services, drives forward travel and tourism, and ultimately improves the quality of life for communities on both sides of the borders by supporting the various strategic initiatives of the governments of Oman and the UAE,” added Al Hatmi.
The rail project isn’t the only economic success of the alliance between Oman and the UAE as Emirati President Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s visit to Oman this week yielded possible financial partnerships to deepen the ties between the two nations.
The Abu Dhabi Developmental Holding Company (ADQ) and Oman Information, Communication and Technology Group, which is part of the Oman Investment Authority (OIA), signed a deal to create a $161 million venture capital fund “to invest in high growth technology companies in the Sultanate of Oman,” according to ADQ.
Additionally, according to ADQ:
The parties also identified preliminary investments to be assessed further that are worth over AED 30 billion in new projects within Oman across target sectors including hydrogen, solar and wind power generation, green aluminum, and steel, as well as water and electricity transmission lines. ADQ is also exploring investment in other sectors that include but are not limited to food & agriculture, logistics, technology, and healthcare. This is in line with ADQ’s ambitions to expand its power, water, and industrial platforms throughout Oman to capture synergies that achieve long-term and sustainable value creation for both nations.
ADQ Managing Director and CEO Mohamed Hassan Alsuwaidi touted the talks that, if they become reality, can further the Emirati-Omani economic partnership.
“As part of the UAE’s longstanding bilateral relationship with Oman, we discussed several potential strategic opportunities that can unlock significant synergies and value through joint collaboration across key industries in the Sultanate,” he said. “[The] engagement builds on our recent efforts and commitment to develop tangible investment partnerships in key markets, such as Oman, that complement our investment strategy and growth aspirations. We are confident that this visit reinforces the significant economic potential of ADQ’s partnership with OIA.”
Even before Al Nahyan’s visit, the ADQ and the OIA already had a $2.72 billion “partnership agreement to facilitate investments between the UAE and Oman in sectors of mutual priority and interest,” per ADQ.
The economic friendship between the UAE and Oman should cause the latter to join the Abraham Accords, which the UAE is already part of, that, alongside accords members Israel and Bahrain, would further benefit the new Middle East not just economically but also in other ways. Hopefully, Abu Dhabi can show Muscat the way.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jackson Richman (@JacksonRichman) is a journalist in Washington, D.C. He is a writer for Mediaite and a contributor to The Washington Examiner. His work has also been featured in The Weekly Standard, The Daily Caller.