UAE’s rail project back on track with financing sealed

The second phase of the UAE’s rail project will extend 605 kilometers from Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast. (WAM)
Updated 27 November 2018
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UAE’s rail project back on track with financing sealed

  • Etihad Rail said the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance have signed an agreement to finance the second stage
  • The preliminary designs for phase two have been completed and tenders for construction work will be launched by end of this month

ABU DHABI: Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the United Arab Emirates’ national rail network, said on Tuesday the government has agreed financing for phase two of the project which was put on hold in 2016.
The financing deal signals that the project is back on track after delays partly due to bureaucracy, technical difficulties and financing issues as the government slowed spending due to low oil prices.
State-owned Etihad Rail had suspended the tendering process for phase two of the project in 2016, saying it was reviewing options for the timing and delivery.
Etihad Rail said the UAE Ministry of Finance and the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance signed the agreement to finance the second stage. It did not disclose a figure for the financing.
The second phase will extend 605 kilometers from Ghuweifat on the border with Saudi Arabia to Fujairah on the east coast.
The preliminary designs for phase two have been completed and tenders for construction work will be launched by end of this month, Etihad Rail said.
The new railway will increase the volume of goods transported to more than 50 million tons from seven million tons, it said.
Etihad Rail is owned 70 percent by the Abu Dhabi government and 30 percent by the UAE federal government.
Once the project is completed, the UAE’s national railway network, which will cost an estimated $11 billion in total, will run for about 1,200 km across the Emirates. The Etihad Rail network will also form a vital part of the Gulf-wide railway network.
Phase one of the rail network, completed in 2015, extends 264 km from Shah and Habshan near Abu Dhabi to Ruwais to transport the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company’s shipments of granulated sulfur for export.
This part of the project secured financing of $1.28 billion from local and international banks.


Selling sketches and clothes, Libyan women set up businesses against the odds

Updated 51 min 55 sec ago
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Selling sketches and clothes, Libyan women set up businesses against the odds

  • Libya has only a tiny private sector and the economy is dominated by the state
  • Cumulative inflation over the last four years has seen real incomes lose more than half of their purchasing power

TRIPOLI: When inflation began eating into her state-paid salary Libyan architect and assistant professor Seham Saleh started selling drawings over the Internet to help pay the bills.
She joins a growing number of Libyan women launching start-ups in the conservative Arab country, where many still think a woman’s place is in the home but where the strains on personal and family income following years’ of political chaos have forced women to look for more work.
Libya has only a tiny private sector, which means there is a market for locally-produced goods. The economy is dominated by the state, which employs most adults under a structure set up by Muammar Qaddafi, who was toppled in 2011.
Men are the traditional breadwinners, although around 30 percent of women were in the labor force as of 2015, according to a UN report.
“I cannot live on my assistant professor salary of 1,000 dinars ($256) even if it is paid out,” said Saleh. She has been selling drawings of people in Libyan dress or book marks she created on a computer.
“Thank God... people wanted to buy the products,” she said. She also does freelance work as an architect.
Once one of the richest countries in the region, the chaos and civil war that ensued after the fall of Qaddafi has seen Libya’s living standards erode. Little is now produced in Libya other than oil, even milk is imported from Europe.
Cumulative inflation over the last four years has seen real incomes lose more than half of their purchasing power, and the government effectively devalued the dinar last September.
A cash crisis means public servants often do not get their salaries paid out in full. Lenders have no cash deposits as the rich prefer to hold their cash themselves, rather than deposit it in a bank.
Women rarely had jobs outside of sectors such as teaching, although the need for more family income has changed the situation, said Jasmin Khoja, head of a women’s business support venture.
Her organization, the Jusoor center for studies and development, has trained some 33 would-be female entrepreneurs, offers legal advice and office space as women often can’t afford their own.
While Seham’s “Naksha” art business is in its early stages, others such as Najwa Shoukri’s start-up are growing fast. She started designing clothes from home in 2016, and selling them online.
Now, together with five other women, she has a workshop selling 50 pieces a month and plans to open a shop next year on Jaraba Street, the main fashion shopping avenue in Tripoli.
To make the shop a success her output would have to rise to 150 pieces a month. Her brother and family have contributed to investments worth 10,000 dinars.
The biggest challenges for start-ups are legal hurdles and the lack of electronic payment systems.
Some Libyan commercial laws go back to the 1960s and are aimed at big corporations such as oil firms, not start-ups. Under these regulations firms need to deposit thousands of dinars.
“Banks do not give loans, which stops projects and makes them unable to grow or employ other women and young people,” Khoja said.
Undeterred, Mayaz Elahshmi started a business last week training women to fix computers and smartphones.
“There is big demand as many women are reluctant to go to a phone shop where men work, as they have personal files on their phones.”
Six people came to her first training session, each paying 30 dinars.