Six key people behind the development of the kingdom’s railway network: Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Hokail,Rumaih al-Rumaih, Arash Aghdam, Adil Guissi, Vinai Kumar Agarwal and Ramiz al-Assar
Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Hokail
Position President, Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO)
Biography Abdul Aziz Mohammed al-Hokail was appointed in 2007 to head the oldest rail firm in Arabia. He is a former executive vice-president at Saudi Aramco, where he is still a board member. Al-Hokail led the restructuring of the state-owned Saudi Aramco in 1993 to incorporate Samarec, then a separate government-owned refining firm. Al-Hokail is overseeing the Saudi Landbridge project, which involves building more than 900 kilometres of track from Jeddah to Riyadh and a spur from Dammam to Jubail. He is also in charge of the completion of the North-South minerals railway and the Haramain high-speed rail link between Mecca and Medina. With a budget of more than $10bn, these projects will make Al-Hokail the most influential figure in the country’s railway industry. The SRO has several more projects under study, including the development of three other main lines.
Contact Tel: (+966) 3 821 2222
Position Chief executive officer, Saudi Railways Company (SAR)
Biography Rumaih al-Rumaih has a doctorate in electrical engineering from University of Colorado in the US and a master’s of business administration in finance from the UK’s University of Leicester. After graduation, he worked in teaching and research for several years. Al-Rumaih joined SAR in July 2008 as a deputy chief executive officer for operations. The SAR is developing the North-South minerals railway. The first phase of the scheme is on track to start operations by the end of 2010. It will be used to transport phosphate from mines at Al-Jelamaid, bauxite from Zubairah and agricultural produce from Al-Basayta to processors in Ras al-Zour near the port city of Jubail. In July, companies submitted prequalification documents for the construction of six passenger stations, six mosques as well as to build the company headquarters in Riyadh.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1 250 1111
Position Director, rail & transit, Aecom
Biography Arash Aghdam has more than 20 years of experience developing and managing major rail and transit infrastructure projects in the UK and globally, working for large international companies. Aghdam is the director of rail & transit at US-based Aecom, responsible for the development of rail projects in Middle East. Prior to joining Aecom, Aghdam was the director of rail and metro for Louis Berger Group based in London, with primary responsibility for developing projects in Europe and the Middle East. Aghdam has worked on major rail projects, including the North South railway in Saudi Arabia; Budapest Metro extension in Hungary; Channel Tunnel Rail Link and Thameslink projects in the UK; the Korea High Speed Rail and Inchon Rail Projects in South Korea; and Kuala Lumpur light rapid transit (LRT) scheme in Malaysia. Aecom is carrying out the feasibility study for a railway in Mecca along with France’s Systra.
Contact Tel: (+971) 2 410 9400
Position Regional director for the Middle East, Egis Rail
Biography Adil Guissi is a civil engineer with more than a decade’s experience in transport infrastructure projects, both in the Middle East and North Africa region and Europe. He began his career in 1996 and was initially focused in roads and highways projects. He joined Egis Group in 2000 as business development and project manager, where he worked on public-private partnership (PPP) projects. Since 2003, he has specialised in railway projects and has acted as project manager for various mass transit projects in Europe and the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, Egis Rail is involved in the $7bn Haramain high-speed railway, Riyadh metro, Jeddah LRT and the masterplans for Jizan, Dammam and Buraida rail lines. Guissi has a master’s degree in technical management from Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussees in Paris and another master’s degree in finance from Paris-Sorbonne.
Contact Tel: (+971) 4 372 49 14
Vinai Kumar Agarwal
Position Managing director and chief executive officer, Rites
Biography Vinai Kumar Agarwal took up his current position at India’s Rites in 2004. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology. He is a member of the Indian Railways Service of Engineers and has more than 30 years of experience associated with infrastructure projects, including rail schemes. Agarwal worked as the chief administrative officer of construction and as divisional railway manager for Northern Railways in Delhi and has also worked on several other assignments with the state-owned Indian Railways. He has been involved in the design and development of the Rail Fastening ERC mark III standard on Indian Railways and has framed specifications for track machines. Earlier this year, Rites was awarded a $100m contract to operate and maintain Saudi Arabia’s North-South Minerals railway over a three-year period.
Contact Tel: (+9111) 2571 666
Position Senior adviser to the GCC Secretariat General World Bank Group
Biography Ramiz al-Assar has more than 25 years of experience in transport engineering, finance and management and has been working for the Washington-headquartered World Bank since 1989. He has been involved in various projects in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Yemen, Egypt and the GCC states. He is the senior World Bank resident adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), the Finance Ministry and also the North-South minerals railway project. His most high-profile association is with the GCC railway for which Al-Assar provides policy, strategy and technical advisory services to the senior management of the GCC Secretariat General and member states. He is also overseeing the creation of a GCC rail authority that will manage the development of the regional rail network. Al-Assar has a doctorate in civil engineering from Michigan State University in the US.
Contact Tel: (+966) 1 482 7777
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