$200bn worth of rail and metro projects planned in Middle East

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Updated 12 October 2014

$200bn worth of rail and metro projects planned in Middle East

The MENA region is experiencing an unprecedented spate of rail investment. From Africa’s first high-speed rail network in Morocco to Oman’s first ever rail scheme, billions of dollars are being invested in rail and metro projects for the first time.
Today, every country has announced rail or metro plans and in total there are more than $200 billion worth of rail and metro projects either planned or under way in the Middle East. This translates to more than 33,700 km of mainline routes and 3,000 km of new metro lines.
The award of major metro and rail contracts in the Middle East has made the region among the most important sources of new work for all those designing, building, supplying and operating railways.
“The Middle East is perhaps the fastest growing market for rail and transit in the world,” says Cosema Crawford, senior vice president and rail and transit global practice leader at Louis Berger.
“Cities are growing and mobility is increasing, driving the need for robust public transportation networks. High-speed rail networks are being built in great numbers, particularly in China, which now boasts about half of the world’s systems,” adds Crawford, who will be speaking at the 10th annual MEED MENA Rail & Metro Summit, which opens in Dubai next month. An increasing number of system suppliers have entered the market, which should help stabilize pricing,” he added.
More than 250 delegates and guests are expected to attend the conference scheduled from Oct. 20-22, at the Conrad Hotel in Dubai with global experts providing tactical insights on challenges and opportunities confronting the metro and rail sector across the region. Among those who have confirmed include Ramiz Al-Assar, World Bank resident adviser to the GCC on railway projects.
Crawford will also speak at the conference’s focus day about high-speed rail in the region. The sector is booming across the world, and the Middle East can learn important lessons from the experiences of others.
High-speed rail, seen in the Middle East as an innovation, has an extensive history. Confidence is now growing in its capacity to reach new levels of performance and speed. “Japan is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Shinkansen this year, and it is developing the next generation of maglev trains, which will travel at 500 km an hour between Tokyo and Osaka,” Crawford adds. “Louis Berger is involved in bringing the same maglev technology to the United States providing one hour service from Washington DC to New York.”
Crawford says that demand for high-speed rail solutions will increase for more than one reason. “High-speed rail popularity will grow as a better and significantly greener alternative to air and car travel,” she says. “As confidence grows in ridership and revenue figures, PPP opportunities will develop as well.”
The GCC’s first high-speed railway is the 450 km Haramain High Speed Rail project that links Jeddah with Makkah, Madinah and Rabigh. It is scheduled to open in 2015 and will break the mold for the Middle East. Also due to open the same year is Morocco’s TGV network from Tangiers to Casablanca, which will be the first high-speed rail technology to be employed on the African continent.
“As traffic congestion continues to grow, public transportation networks become essential, including intercity travel on high-speed rail,” says Crawford about the need for new transport solutions in the region.
“High-speed rail is ultimately an instrument for development, and the costs for implementation should be considered and financed in that light. High-speed rail systems are dependent on good local public transportation networks to take riders to their final destinations. Most importantly, there needs to be a cultural shift to accept public transportation systems,” Crawford says.
“Seasonal high temperatures and lack of pedestrian infrastructure need to be addressed in the design of the stations,” he added.
The engineering challenges are also formidable. “High-speed rail requires straight alignments in order to maintain speed. Developed areas may have difficulty identifying suitable corridors, resulting in compromises on speed, substantial property takings, or extensive tunneling, with the latter two adding to the cost and schedule. True high-speed rail cannot co-exist with other rail modes on the same tracks, such as freight rail,” Crawford says.
“In addition, special solutions are required to maintain the required level of track integrity over long distances of desert conditions with blowing sand,” he added.


Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

Updated 17 October 2019

Huawei’s third-quarter revenue jumps 27% as smartphone sales surge

  • American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts
  • Huawei was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies

SHENZHEN, SHANGHAI: Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd’s third-quarter revenue jumped 27%, driven by a surge in shipments of smartphones launched before a trade blacklisting by the United States expected to hammer its business.
Huawei, the world’s biggest maker of telecom network equipment and the No. 2 manufacturer of smartphones, was all but banned by the United States in May from doing business with American companies, significantly disrupting its ability to source key parts.
The company has been granted a reprieve until November, meaning it will lose access to some technology next month. Huawei has so far mainly sold smartphones that were launched before the ban.
Its newest Mate 30 smartphone — which lacks access to a licensed version of Google’s Android operating system — started sales last month.
Huawei in August said the curbs would hurt less than initially feared, but could still push its smartphone unit’s revenue lower by about $10 billion this year.
The tech giant did not break down third-quarter figures but said on Wednesday revenue for the first three quarters of the year grew 24.4% to 610.8 billion yuan.
Revenue in the quarter ended Sept. 30 rose to 165.29 billion yuan ($23.28 billion) according to Reuters calculations based on previous statements from Huawei.
“Huawei’s overseas shipments bounced back quickly in the third quarter although they are yet to return to pre-US ban levels,” said Nicole Peng, vice president for mobility at consultancy Canalys.
“The Q3 result is truly impressive given the tremendous pressure the company is facing. But it is worth noting that strong shipments were driven by devices launched pre-US ban, and the long-term outlook is still dim,” she added.
The company said it has shipped 185 million smartphones so far this year. Based on the company’s previous statements and estimates from market research firm Strategy Analytics, that indicates a 29% surge in third-quarter smartphone shipments.
Still, growth in the third quarter slowed from the 39% increase the company reported in the first quarter. Huawei did not break out figures for the second quarter either, but has said revenue rose 23.2% in the first half of the year.
“Our continued strong performance in Q3 shows our customers’ trust in Huawei, our technology and services, despite the actions and unfounded allegations against us by some national governments,” Huawei spokesman Joe Kelly told Reuters.
The US government alleges Huawei is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy. Huawei has repeatedly denied its products pose a security threat.
The company, which is now trying to reduce its reliance on foreign technology, said last month that it has started making 5G base stations without US components.
It is also developing its own mobile operating system as the curbs cut its access to Google’s Android operating system, though analysts are skeptical that Huawei’s Harmony system is yet a viable alternative.
Still, promotions and patriotic purchases have driven Huawei’s smartphone sales in China — surging by a nearly a third compared to a record high in the June quarter — helping it more than offset a shipments slump in the global market.