MENA region plans $245 billion railway projects

In preparation for mega global events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is the midst of planning railway and metro schemes worth $245 billion.

Currently, already $89 billion worth of projects are well underway including the first phase of the Doha Metro and the Riyadh Metro project.

Construction work for most packages of the Doha Metro is expected to be completed in 2018, while the $23 billion-Riyadh Metro is expected to finish in 2020, according to experts.

With the 12th edition of Mena Rail and Integrated Transport Summit to be held on November 8 and 9 at the Address Dubai Marina Hotel in Dubai, UAE, leading industry experts will discuss the considerable opportunities and challenges that the MENA region presents for clients, contractors, consultants and suppliers alike.

Delivering projects on time and within budget is expected to be the main focus of most rail operators and contractors over the medium-term as global events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 and the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw closer, stated business intelligence platform Meed, the event organiser.

The $2.9 billion contract for the Dubai Metro extension to the Expo 2020 site was awarded in May, with a test run expected to commence in fourth quarter of 2019.

Dubai is expecting about 25 million visitors for the Expo 2020 which takes place between October 2020 and April 2021, while Doha expects one million visitors for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it said.

In addition to these events, the sustained increase in urban population has resulted in congestion in most cities, and is the main factor driving metro projects in the region, according to the experts.

“The GCC region expects its urban population to increase by 65 million people by 2050,” remarked Richard Thompson, editorial director at Meed.

“This requires a long-term solution in terms of public transportation systems, which would inevitably include a comprehensive rail or metro infrastructure,” stated Thompson.

According to him, Dubai has shown a clear example of how a metro infrastructure could serve a city that is aiming to expand continuously and rapidly, and very soon Doha and Riyadh will also reap similar benefits.

Beyond the construction phase, the rail owners and operators are also being urged to focus on integrating the long-term operation and maintenance (O&M) in the overall plan of their rail and metro systems as well as in integrating rail with other modes of public transport systems such as roads and maritime networks in order to optimise efficiency and foster convenience for users, he added.

Source: Trade Arabia news