NEW CAUSEWAY TO COST $5BN

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A second causeway linking Bahrain with Saudi Arabia and providing a route for a regional railway network being built by GCC states will cost about $5 billion, a minister said yesterday.

Details of the project for the causeway – which will be used by vehicles as well as freight and passenger trains – will be discussed at a joint meeting next month.

“We have almost finalised the routes of the causeway,” Transportation Minister Kamal Ahmed said.

“It will be part of the GCC railway network.”

He was speaking on the sidelines of the ‘Business Opportunity and Political Risk in the Gulf and Middle East’ Conference at the Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea and Spa.

Teams from both countries are “still working on other technical issues including financing,” especially on how to get the private sector involved, the minister said.

No date has been fixed for the start of the project.

“We need it to start soon,” he said.

The GCC railway network is expected to be completed by 2017. It will stretch over a distance of 2,000km and cost an estimated $20bn.

The two-day conference that ended yesterday was organised by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Delegates deliberated the need to utilise the demographic dividend of the region and for stronger private sector collaboration in tandem with government policy-making.

Mr Ahmed also stressed the importance of developing a post-oil economy. “The challenge for us should be to ensure that our current prosperity is not something that we look back on in 30 years as a short-lived golden age. After all, oil will not last forever – we need to make sure that we develop economies that are able to thrive in the post-oil era,” he said..

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