Dhofar-Riyadh rail-link would make Oman a GCC hub
Port boss says circumventing straits would make Oman GCC player
Building a rail-link between the Dhofar in Oman and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia would help Oman realise its dream of becoming a major regional player, according to the CEO of Port of Salalah.
The GCC is investing heavily in its transport and logistics links with each member state unveiling plans to build or expand existing ports and construct new road, air and rail-links. Peter Ford told the Oman Transport Infrastructure Summit that Oman has an opportunity to place itself at the forefront of this wave of infrastructure construction.
He said that overland rail links from Oman to KSA would mean ships do not need to enter the Straits of Hormuz, as goods could quickly and economically be transport overland. He added that Oman should opt for rail, rather than trucks, to develop its connections with the GCC and become the port of entry for the region.
"I see it as a huge opportunity for Oman to service a large market. The obvious idea and opportunity is to connect and make a much faster transit time between Riyadh both for import and export through Salalah or through Oman to get to Asia and the rest of the world on the East side," he said.
"Current plans to connect us to the coast of Oman and into the UAE could spell an entire shift in the supply chain for this region, more towards the European and American models,” Ford said, “where new overland routes become the way of doing things rather than bringing vessels up into the Straits of Hormuz. Time will tell, but it presents significant opportunity for investigation."
Ford added: "I would also love to see a connection between Salalah and Riyadh. Considering its strategic value and size of the Saudi market, there is a significant opportunity for Oman to get into the role of the real GCC player they envision themselves to become. Between those two links, you would service the entire GCC and become the entry or hub port entry in the region. Salalah is the right location to economically service the northern areas of the region by rail rather than truck."