Oman sets rail transport as a key priority

Oman is to embark on a major increase in infrastructure spending in 2013, with the proposed $15bn rail network set to receive the lion’s share of the spend, according to consultancy firm Oxford Business Group.

Oman recently revealed plans to increase its 2013 budget by 12% on last year, while infrastructure spending grew by 30%.

The consultancy said the rail network “is set to play a pivotal role” in linking key industrial production centres at Sohar, Duqm and Salalah – all of which are currently sited away from residential areas and natural resources.

Moreover, the size of the country makes it difficult to move large volumes of bulky cargo over long distances.

“The new train service, which is expected to include more than 1,000km of dual track when completed, will prove particularly useful in helping transport minerals,” the report said.

It pointed to an announcement by Oman’s Financial Affairs Minister, Darwish bin Ismail Al Balushi, that the country plans to finance its rail network through a $10bn fund provided by other GCC members.

The investment in transport is expected to trigger higher-than-average GDP growth this year – up from 7% to 8.3%.

The design stage of Oman’s rail network is expected to complete early next year, with construction due by the third quarter of 2014. The railway is expected to begin operation by 2018.