Billions of dollars of aid pledged by GCC countries to Oman will be partially used to fund the development of the country’s planned railway network.

In its 2013 budget, the Omani government has identified the long-awaited rail project as one of several to be funded by GCC aid.  

Other projects to be targeted include the Al-Batinah Expressway, and electricity and water works, and infrastructure at the Duqm Special Economic Zone. These projects were selected for their role in strengthening the wider GCC economy and supporting the flow of trade in the region.

The GCC countries had pledged to give Oman $1bn every year over the course of the next 10 years to help improve the country’s infrastructure and economy in the wake of the social unrest witnessed in 2011.

It was also announced that a new national railway company will be established to oversee the development of the new railway. The government-owned body will be responsible for the tendering, designing and construction of the rail network.

The Oman rail network has stalled in recent months after the Transport Ministry announced in September that it was retendering all contracts related to phase 1 of the project. As of the end of last year, tenders for the project management consultancy (PMC) were expected to be released at the end of the first quarter of 2013, if not the early part of the second quarter. About 12 companies are said to have been shortlisted for the PMC contract.

Oman’s 1,061-kilometre railway is part of the proposed GCC-wide railway network that will run from Kuwait to Muscat and on to Salalah.

The Oman budget also included details of other transportation projects it has pledged to support in 2013. These include the completion of the Sohar airport project, the upgrading of Port Hasik to receive fast ferries and adding new berths to Duqm port.