The study will evaluate several elements, including route alignment, the extrapolation of topographical and statistical data, creation of a legal model, passenger and freight configuration, port integration and financing and development options. Once completed, it will create a framework for the next stage of the estimated $5,500 million project’s development. Completion of the scheme is expected to take at least six more years.
The go-ahead for commissioning the study was given in October 2004 during a meeting of GCC transport ministers in Kuwait, but was only recently revived. The scheme’s preliminary study, completed two years ago by a US/Kuwaiti team of Parsons Brinckerhoff and Global Investment House, proposed two routes for the network. The first runs from Muscat through the UAE and Saudi Arabia before terminating in Kuwait. The other option includes incorporating both Qatar and Bahrain into the network. This route is more expensive, but offers a higher rate of return.
Co-ordinating the varying demands of six different countries will be one of the project’s obstacles, but as was proved with the GCC electricity grid, regional governments can overcome these challenges if the project can be shown to be beneficial for all.