DUBAI, March 25 The United Arab Emirates'
railway developer Etihad Rail has signed a joint venture deal
with a unit of Germany's Deutsche Bahn to operate and
maintain the Gulf country's planned $11 billion rail network, it
said on Tuesday.
Gulf Arab oil exporters are spending hundreds of billions of
dollars on projects ranging from power to transport as they look
to diversify their heavily hydrocarbon-reliant economies and
boost regional trade.
Etihad Rail DB will manage operations for the first stage of
the railway, transporting granulated sulphur on a 264-km
(164-mile) route from Shah and Habshan to the port of Ruwais. It
will also act as consultant for future stages of the project.
"The company will pave the way for the railway operations in
the UAE and set a benchmark in the region," Mattar al-Tayer,
Chairman of Etihad Rail DB, said in a statement.
Deutsche Bahn is Europe's largest railway firm, operating
passenger and freight services on a 33,500-km rail network.
Upon completion, the UAE's national railway network will
span about 1,200 km as part of the planned Gulf railway network.
In February, state-backed Etihad Rail said it had bank loans
of $1.28 billion to build the first phase of the project.
(Reporting by Martin Dokoupil; Editing by Louise Ireland)