Saudi Arabia's Haramain railway

23 January 2012

Six executives involved in the Middle East’s first high-speed passenger railway project: Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraiseri, Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hokail, Ala Ghanem, David O’Reilly, Ignasi Nieto and Teofilo Serrano Beltran

Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraiseri

Position: Transport Minister

Biography: Jubarah bin Eid al-Suraiseri was appointed transport minister in 2003 and has overseen a radical overhaul of Saudi Arabia’s transport infrastructure. Under his supervision, not only has the aviation sector gone through increased privatisation, but several major rail projects have been developed and there are plans for several more. Al-Suraiseri has overseen the construction of the now-complete North-South minerals railway and the Mecca metro. The next rail schemes include the $7bn Haramain high-speed project, the $7bn Landbridge link, Jeddah Light Rail Transit and the Mecca Mass Rail Transit. Before becoming transport minister, Al-Suraiseri spent 14 years at the Finance & Economy Ministry, joining as assistant deputy minister in 1989. From 1995, he was deputy finance minister. Previously, he worked in Washington DC in the US for the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.

Contact Tel: (+966) 1 404 3000

Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hokail

Position: President, Saudi Railways Organisation

Biography: Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hokail was appointed head of Saudi Railways Organisation, the oldest railway company in the Arabian peninsula, in 2007. He is a former executive vice president of Saudi Aramco and is still a board member. Al-Hokail is overseeing the construction of the $7bn Haramain high-speed railway, one of the biggest rail projects under way in the Gulf. Stretching 444 kilometres between the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, the railway will be particularly important during the annual hajj. Saudi Railways Organisation is also working on the $7bn Saudi Landbridge project, which involves building more than 900km of track from Jeddah to Riyadh, as well as a spur from Dammam to Jubail. He also has overall control of the completed North-South minerals railway. With a budget of more than $10bn, these projects make Al-Hokail the most influential figure in the Saudi railway sector.

Contact Tel: (+966) 3 821 2222

Ala Ghanem

Position: Regional director, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, Invensys Rail

Biography: Ala Ghanem has been regional director at Invensys Rail in Dubai since 2009 and is responsible for business development. Previously, Ghanem was marketing director at Global Projects in Melbourne, Australia. In this role, he delivered strategic planning advice to firms wishing to enter the Middle East and North Africa market. From 2004-08, he held a similar role at Westinghouse Rail Systems in Australia and the UK. Invensys Rail has won several major contracts under Ghanem’s leadership, including the Ankara-Konya high-speed line and the Marmaray Crossing in Turkey. In November 2011, it was awarded a $676m contract to supply signalling for phase two of the Haramain high-speed railway. As part of the Saudi-Spanish Al-Shoula consortium, the company will provide the full turn-key signalling and train control systems. The deal includes a 12-year maintenance period.

Contact Tel: (+971) 4 807 4607

David O’Reilly

Position: Executive project director, high-speed rail, URS Corporation

Biography: David O’Reilly leads US-based URS Corporation’s project management team, which is supporting the Saudi Railways Organisation in delivering the Haramain railway. In the past two years, 450km of civil engineering works have progressed on site and major works contract packages have been awarded. Lord Norman Foster of the UK’s Foster & Partners has designed four major stations; an upgrade of the high-voltage transmission network has been completed and a SR30bn contract for railway systems has been awarded. Previously, O’Reilly played a leading role in the development of major railway, highway and water projects in the UK. He is a fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a member of the Association for Project Management, both UK-based societies. O’Reilly has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in science from the UK’s University of Warwick.

Contact Tel: (+966) 0 503 278590

Ignasi Nieto

Position: Chairman and chief executive, INECO

Biography: Ignasi Nieto is the head of Spain’s INECO, part of the Saudi-Spanish Al-Shoula consortium that won the signalling contract for phase 2 of the Haramain project. In 2008-10, Nieto served as executive vice president of Isdefe, a state-owned company that provides engineering and consulting services to Spain’s defence industry. Between 2006 and 2008, Nieto was secretary general of energy and president of the Institute for Diversification and Energy Saving and president of the Institute for the Restructuring of Coal Mining. He was director of regulation and competition for the National Energy Commission from 2005-06, deputy director of the Catalan Institute of Energy from 2004-05 and commercial director of electrical firm Fecsa-Endesa from 1998-2002. Nieto has a doctorate in economics from the University of Barcelona and a master’s in special studies in administration and management from the US’ Harvard University.

Contact Tel: (+34) 9 145 21200

Teofilo Serrano Beltran

Position: President, Renfe Operadora

Biography: Civil engineer Teofilo Serrano Beltran took up the position as chairman of Spain’s national railway operator Renfe in May 2009. Previously, he was managing director of the public infrastructure management body and managing director of railways within the regional government of Andalucia. He has also served as counsellor for labour and immigration at the Spanish embassy in the UK. Other roles he has held include managing director of urban transport in Seville, director of the technical cabinet of the Labour and Social Security Ministry, Secretary of State for Public Administration and managing director of Spain’s National Geographic Institute. In 1991, he was elected senator by the Spanish Socialist Party for the regional government of Madrid. Renfe is also part of the Al-Shoula consortium and is responsible for the commercial operation of the Haramain railway.

Contact Tel: (+34) 9 130 06600

A MEED Subscription...

Subscribe or upgrade your current package to support your strategic planning with the MENA region’s best source of business information. Proceed to our online shop below to find out more about the features in each package.

Get Notifications