A $3 billion project to build a railway link between the UAE and Oman will create job opportunities and bolster ties between the Gulf neighbours, officials have said.
Oman and Etihad Rail Company, a joint venture between Oman Rail and Etihad Rail, is overseeing the large-scale transport scheme.
Trains that can reach speeds of 200kph will connect Abu Dhabi with Sohar to the north of Muscat.
An agreement was signed last month with Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's sovereign investor, for the development of the 303km route.
The board of directors of Oman-Etihad Rail Company underlined the significance of the ambitious plans during their latest meeting in Muscat.
The meeting was attended by Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and Chairman of Oman and Etihad Rail Company, and Saeed Al Maawali, Oman's Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, and Vice Chairman of the Oman and Etihad Rail board.
Members of the board praised the initiative as a "new milestone in the relationship between the two countries", the Abu Dhabi Media Office said on Friday.
"The project aims to facilitate passenger and freight movement, create rewarding job opportunities for professionals in both countries, and foster sustainable development and stronger ties through the development and operation of a safe, secure, and efficient railway network connecting the Sultanate of Oman and the UAE," it said.
Rail scheme on track
Board members were updated on the progress of the joint network, as well as the results of engineering design reviews and system studies.
The studies were conducted in order to ensure the network was able to operate in the Middle East climate, which typically experiences higher temperatures than many parts of the world.
The board also discussed ways to integrated the latest technologies and best international practices to allow for the smooth running of the rail line.
What we know about key rail project
The transport link, first announced in September, is aimed at bolstering trade and tourism opportunities between the UE and Oman 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 200kph, with freight trains reaching 120kph.
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.
Plans include connecting the UAE's existing freight services line to Sohar, the sultanate's deep-sea port.