A meeting of ministers in Doha approved the 1,500-kilometre project, which will link all six member states along the eastern coast of the Arabian peninsula, from Kuwait to Oman.

The study was submitted in mid-September by the project consultants, a group of Canada’s Canarail, French rail firm Systra and Lebanese consultant Khatib & Alami.

However, several issues remain under discussion. In particular, the question of whether to have a single regulator for the project – as recommended by the study – or six national bodies, remains unresolved.

“These questions will all be resolved but for now the important thing is that the project looks like it’s going ahead,” says a rail official close to the talks.