$15.5bn Gulf rail project: Overseeing body on way

Updated 28 December 2013

$15.5bn Gulf rail project: Overseeing body on way

ABU DHABI: Construction of a $15.5 billion rail network linking the six Gulf states will start late next year and an overseeing authority for the project is being set up, an adviser said.
The joint project is to develop a railway network linking Oman in the south to Kuwait in the north through the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.
Progress has been held up by bureaucratic and technical obstacles, but if the railway is completed, it could have a major impact on the Gulf economy by stimulating trade and limiting consumption of fuel for road travel.
Detailed engineering and design (DED) work will be completed by late 2013 or early 2014, with construction to follow, Ramiz Al-Assar, the World Bank’s resident adviser to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretariat, told a conference organized by MEED, a business information company.
A GCC authority to oversee the project is being established after it was recently approved by national ministers of transport and finance, he said.
“Some key milestones have been achieved and we are targeting for the project to be fully operational in 2018,” he said.
GCC countries will build their parts of the railway on their own; the UAE and Saudi Arabia have begun their construction work while other countries will start shortly, he added.
Oman has begun preliminary design on its rail project.
Meanwhile, the contract to study a proposal for a new causeway linking Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, part of the GCC rail project, will be awarded next month and the study is scheduled to be completed in 2014, he said.
“This is an important strategic project in the scheme.”


At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

Updated 24 January 2020

At Davos, innovative products point to a sustainable future

  • A single tree that to bear 40 different types of apple

DAVOS: The World Economic Forum is not all about the fourth industrial revolution or the rise of AI.

You can also find all manner of strange and intriguing products on display from biodegradable plastic made from algae to wallpaper made from recycled corn husks.

One stand titled “How do you design a tree?” is part of a conservation effort where a single tree is designed to bear 40 different types of apple.

Another stand displays colored seaweed on a rack, showing how clothes can be dyed in a sustainable, non-chemically corrosive manner.

Propped along a large wall is Fernando Laposse’s wallpaper made of variations of purple corn husks that are reinforced with recycled cardboard and cork to create wallpaper and furniture. The husks come from corn that needs very little water and can be grown in the desert, which makes it all the more sustainable.

“This initiative helps the local economy as it brings in jobs and a resurgence of crafts and food traditions while also ensuring sustainability,” Laposse said.

Another display shows a machine that extracts pellets from a mixture of algae and starch and is used to create a thread that is the base of 3D printing. These sustainable, biodegradable plastics made from algae are being experimented with in different regions.

With the rise of deep fakes — a branch of synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness — another stand delivers a warning on the looming dangers of unregulated software.

The Davos forum prides itself on its sustainability, and key topics have included climate, mobility, energy and the circular economy. Everything is recyclable, and participants must download an application in order to keep up with the program and any changes — a move to cut down on paper waste.