The value of rail contracts awarded throughout the Middle East and North Africa hit $434 million in the first quarter of the year, roughly 17 per cent of the total $2.55 billion awarded in the transport sector overall.
The figure is expected to rise as further contracts for more than 33,712 kilometres of mainline routes and over 3,000 kilometres of monorail and tramlines are to be awarded later in the year.
The figures demonstrate MENA’s determination to build huge cross-country railway infrastructures, and the potential for their existence to significantly alter travel in region.
Etihad Rail, the state-backed firm behind the $11 billion railway network in the UAE, secured $1.28 billion financing for the first phase of the project in February this year.
The UAE rail network, which will form part of the planned Gulf-wide network, is expected to cost $10.9 billion with a 1,200 kilometre route that will connect urban, industrial, port and logistics locations.
Phase one of the network will measure 264 kilometres, stretching from Shah and Habshan near Abu Dhabi to Ruwais.
Saudi Arabia has earmarked around $400 billion to spend on its own infrastructure over a five-year period.
The MENA Rail and Metro Summit, due to take place in Abu Dhabi in October, will offer a review of the current rail projects in the region as well as those in the pipeline.
“These developments make the region one of the world’s fastest growing markets for rail projects, driven by population growth, economic development, growing urbanization and ever-increasing traffic congestion throughout the region,” said Edmund O’ Sullivan, chairman of MEED Events, organisers of the summit.
“The magnitude of rail developments in the region has elicited so much interest.”