PPP to end upcoming metro drought

10 February 2023
The Muscat Metro is the latest metro project to show signs of progress in the GCC

Colin Foreman

If the Riyadh Metro opens as reportedly planned at the end of this year, it will be the first time in over a decade that there will not be a metro project under construction in the GCC.

The hope for the construction industry is that the upcoming period of inactivity will be short-lived, with plans for metro projects in Dubai, Bahrain and now Muscat.

On 5 February, Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications & Information Technology opened one financial bid for the contract to prepare a pre-feasibility outline for the first phase of its planned Muscat Metro network.

The Muscat Metro has long been discussed, and the tender for the preliminary consultancy work is a major step as it signals the government’s ambition to deliver the project.

Other planned metro projects are at a more advanced stage. In Bahrain, the Ministry of Transport & Communications plans to issue tender documents for the upcoming metro scheme in the first quarter of 2023. A total of 11 companies submitted prequalification documents to tender for the upcoming project in early 2022.

In Dubai, the Roads & Transport Authority is expected to issue expressions of interest to extend its existing metro network. Now known as the Blue Line, the project involves building extensions to the current Red and Green lines connecting to Mirdif City Centre and Dubai Academic City.

In Doha, there are plans to extend the Red, Green and Gold lines. The projects involve building 10 new stations each for the Green and Gold lines and as many as 15 to 20 stations for the Red Line. In 2022, Qatar Rail indicated that it was preparing to invite firms to bid for contracts to provide project management consultancy (PMC) for the project. 

While the Doha Metro projects are likely to be funded directly by the government, the Dubai and Bahrain projects are expected to be delivered as public-private partnerships (PPP).

PPP could also be an option for Muscat, and the business case for using the private sector will strengthen considerably if the Bahrain and Dubai projects move ahead as planned.  

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