Ambitious plans for a rail network connecting the UAE to Oman have taken a major step forwards with a co-operation deal with Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Investment Company.
Oman and Etihad Rail Company, a joint venture between Oman Rail and Etihad Rail to oversee the project, has signed an agreement with Mubadala for the development of the 303km route.
The overall investment value of the railway network is $3 billion.
The key transport link, first announced in September, aims to bolster trade and tourism opportunities between the Gulf neighbours and the rest of the region.
It is not yet clear when the rail project will be completed.
The regional rail line will serve both passenger and freight trains when up and running.
Passenger services will operate at up to 200 kph, with freight trains reaching 120 kph.
It will reduce journey times between Abu Dhabi and Sohar, to the north of Muscat, to 100 minutes, and trips from Sohar to Al Ain to 47 minutes.
The transport link includes connecting the UAE's existing freight services line to Sohar, the sultanate's deep-sea port.
The co-operation agreement with Mubadala will involve the formation of working groups and joint committees to share knowledge and expertise and deliver economic and financial feasibility studies, in addition to joint investments in the development of the network.
The partnership was signed by Ahmed Al Hashemi, chief executive of the Oman and Etihad Rail Company, and Dr Bakheet Al Katheeri, executive director of the UAE Industries Unit at Mubadala’s UAE Investments platform.
Suhail Al Mazrouei, the UAE's Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, and chairman of Oman and Etihad Rail Company, said the scheme will bolster ties between the nations across various sectors.
“The establishment of Oman-Etihad Rail network, is an extension of the strategic relations and strong historical ties between the UAE and the Sultanate of Oman, and the foundation of the strong partnership between Etihad Rail and Oman Rail," he said.
"The joint venture will transform the infrastructure, transport, and logistics sectors, and enhance commercial movement and social cohesion, by linking economic, industrial, commercial, and residential centres through the railway network."
The signing of the co-operation agreement between the Oman and Etihad Rail Company and Mubadala reflects the commitment of both parties to building strategic partnerships to promote investment, economic growth and comprehensive development in both countries, the Minister said.
"The agreement will contribute to enhancing and developing the national economy in the UAE and the Sultanate by improving supply chain efficiency, opening new cross-border trade opportunities, and providing safe and sustainable means of transportation via rail for passengers and goods.”