gcc plans $60 bn railway project by arab news

A $60 billion railway project to connect Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and eventually Oman will be on the agenda of the summit of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) heads of state.

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque King Abdullah will head the Kingdom’s delegation to the meeting in Kuwait on Dec 14 , said the senior officials of the GCC General Secretariat on Tuesday . The railway project is planned for completion by 2017.

The railway will offer transportation connections for GCC that currently relies on trucks, ships and planes which are often more expensive that transportation by rail.

The new system on which construction will begin in 2011 will alleviate much of the financial and logistic al burden of land-to-sea travel. One of the major components of the railway proposal will be a 1,300-km line from Saudi border to Abu Dhabi to Ras-Al Khaimah and Fujairah.

On the political front , GCC summit has  a full agenda. GCC officials contacted bt Arab News said that Iran would not be invited to the summit, Moreover , major regional issues, including Palaestine , Iraq , Sudan and Somalia in addition to developments in Lebanon following the formation of the Cabinet of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, will be discussed . The summit will discuss relations with Iran with special reference to the three occupied UAE islands, and the necessity of adopting dialogue to  resolve disputes between neighbouring countries. The summit will also adress the issue of preserving Yamen’s unity, security and stability.

The 30th GCC summit will see the inaguration of the GCC power-linkage project. The first phase has been finalized by linking Bahrain with saudi Arabia , Qatar and Kuwait , the statement said .

The second stage of the mega project will link the USA , Oman , and the third, the intersection of the two networks.

Another important issues that will be discussed in the creation of a unified currency for Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The GCC’s two remaining states Oman and the UAE have currently opted out of the monetary union. Kuwait’s Parliament  unanimously ratified the Gulf monetary union pact on Tuesday. 

The pact, signed by four GCC members in June, stipulates the establishment of a joint monetary council next year.

GCC Secretary-General Abdul RAhman Al-Atiyah said that Gulf leaders would discuss reports dealing with the joint Gulf market, launched in Doha in December 2007.

Other matters to be addressed include equality , employment of nationals in the teaching and vocational sectors and other regional issues. Topics related to health , family and legislation will also be discussed with the aim of developing a common position in the GCC.

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