- Travel between Oman-Saudi Arabia to get lot easier; road is 800km in length
- New road cuts through the Empty Quarter and will be a lifeline for trade between the two countries
A long-delayed project of Oman-Saudi Arabia road through the world’s largest sand desert is in the final phase of construction, officials said on Tuesday.
The announcement was made by Salem Mohammed Al Nuaimi, undersecretary at Oman’s Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, during an interview with Oman TV.
“Travelling by land between Saudi Arabia and Oman is about to get a lot easier as the highway linking the two countries is set to open soon. The road is almost complete and work is now in full swing to establish the necessary facilities to provide utility services for users,” Al Nuaimi said.
The 800km road project, which has been delayed for years, will reduce travel time significantly.
Describing the road’s layout, Al Nuaimi said: “The road stretches through some of the toughest terrains in the world”. This includes the Rub Al Khali desert, which is widely known as the Empty Quarter. The road extends approximately 580km in Saudi Arabia and 160km in Oman, he added.
The new road extends from the town of Ibri in the southwest of Oman to Al Ahsa city in east Saudi Arabia. It is expected to save travel time betrween the two countires by 16 hours.
Al Nuaimi highlighted the importance of the construction of the vital road in linking the two GCC countries and encouraging citizens and expatriate residents to travel by land.
Seyyid Faisal bin Turki, Oman’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said on Oman TV that the new road will boost commercial activities between the two countries.
“The road, when completed, will increase foreign trade between Oman and Saudi Arabia. It will also speed up exports between the two countries in the shortest period of time and that will contribute to cost-saving because of the shorter route,” he said.
Oman exports fish to the Saudi market while Saudi Arabia provides dairy produce, vegetables and petrochemicals to Oman.
Earlier this year, Oman and Saudi Arabia held a series of talks to boost trade relations. Oman’s minister of commerce, industry and investment promotion revealed that an Omani-Saudi Business Council is in the works.
Omani businessmen say they are looking forward to the completion of the new road boosting trade.
“It takes a long time to export anything to Saudi Arabia with the existing road. The new road will cut travel time by more than half. We have to drive for nearly 18 hours to reach Saudi Arabia. I calculate that the new road will take only six hours,” said Khamis Al Shibli, 44, an Omani fish exporter from the town of Ibri in Oman.
Other Omanis said the road will also benefit tourists and pilgrims.
“Omanis who are living in the south-west of the country will find it easy to use the new road to visit Saudi Arabia for tourism purposes and the Makkah pilgrimage. It will be quicker and a cheaper mode of transport, too,” said Hamed Al Abri, 34, a resident of Ibri.