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Subway and international rail on the way for Qatar 23, November 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A $25 billion deal has been announced between the Qatari Government and German rail company Deutsche Bahn to build Doha a subway system and subsequently to construct a high-speed train link to Manama, Bahrain.

The subway is expected to have four lines, 98 stations and over 300km of track. The high-speed train to Bahrain is predicted to top 350km per hour which, if my maths is vaguely correct and my playing around with distance calculations on Google Maps is up to scratch, should mean Doha-Manama in (very) roughly 45 minutes.

Subways are clearly the latest ‘must have’ accessory for any Gulf city this season. Dubai’s metro garnered copious pages of copy when it opened recently and Doha does not want to be left behind in the ‘appendages of modern city’ stakes. Also Doha, again like many if not most of the larger Gulf cities, is groaning under the weight of the traffic and a tube/subway/metro/underground railway system will be a welcome relief to residents. However, so far, I haven’t come across any projected completion dates for either of these ventures. One supposes that the subway would have to be in place for (inshallah) ‘when’ Qatar hosts the Football World Cup in 2022. Indeed, having the Bahrain-Qatar link would be a welcome addition for the event too, though it sounds like they’ll be concentrating on one huge transport infrastructure project at a time.

It will be interesting to see exactly how this will develop. Gulf cities are notorious for not having a particularity good sense of long-term planning. Buildings are built without the proper planning making the ‘after the fact’ input of electricity lines, sewerage and telephone lines (to give just three examples) often exceedingly complex. This is certainly the case in Kuwait and Dubai where property development has raced ahead of planning. I fear that Doha is following suit too. I heard that there would have been a spectacular debacle if Qatar had won the Olympics that it was in the running for whereby they would have had to have bulldozed one of their newest and poshest malls (Villagio) as that land was on the original Olympics schematics. So watch this space…


How, the more observant of you may be wondering, will the train get to Manama, given that Bahrain is made up of islands? Plans are well afoot to build a 40km bridge/causeway linking Qatar and Bahrain. Indeed, ground is expected to be broken in the coming months and work finished by 2015.

In the wider GCC scheme of these things, these developments will enable the fabled pan-GCC train linking Kuwait to Oman via Qatar, the Emirates, Saudi and Bahrain. Whether this particular mammoth rail project comes off, however, is debatable. The population of the GCC may not warrant such an extensive rail system and given the astronomical costs involved and the slow but sure realization that the region’s oil and gas resources will run out some day, the airlines need not fear just yet.

(Thanks to x for the metro map)


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