Next, a Gulf-Europe rail route

September 2nd, 2008 - 5:44 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Sep 2 (IANS) If a proposal from Bahrain’s king turns into reality, people can well travel from the Gulf all the way to Europe by train.Planners are working on a proposal by Bahrain’s Emir Hamad Ibn Isa Al-Khalifah to establish rail routes from Bahrain and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations to Turkey.

Turkey’s ambassador to Bahrain Osman Haldun told the Gulf Daily News that a GCC-Turkey rail route is likely to become a reality within the next five to six years.

“Once there is a railway to Turkey, a connection to Europe is the natural thing to happen after that,” Haldun was quoted as saying.

In that case, people can board a train in Bahrain’s capital Manama and alight in Paris, he added.

“This is the future and once it happens, it would become extremely easy to move a large number of people between these two diverse parts of the world,” he said.

“Looking at the world scenario now, we feel there will be a need for such a link very soon.”

Immense interest has been aroused among experts in Turkey after King Hamad made the proposal during the course of an official visit to that country last month.

Several possible routes to Turkey are being explored.

According to Haldun, the easiest and the shortest link to Turkey would be through Iraq or Syria.

“I do not see Iraq being a very favourable option at the moment, but a few years down the line, it could be the shortest connection,” he told the newspaper.

Under this plan, half the project would be carried out by Saudi Arabia and the rest by the other GCC countries - Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Another plan calls for a rail network that originates in Oman and runs all the way through the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq and then on to Turkey.

A third plans calls for the rail route starting in Oman and passing through the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and then Turkey.

Stating that relations between Turkey and the Arab world including the Gulf are at an all-time high, Haldun said the proposed rail route would bring an economic windfall for the people of the region.

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