Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schröder, who left Riyadh on Monday after a two-day visit, has commented that German companies are interested in the Kingdom’s SR10 billion [U.S.$2.7 billion] railway expansion project. He made this comment while addressing the Saudi-German Economic Conference at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Details of the process for the BOT (build, operate, transfer) contracts are expected in the next few months.
The major part of the railway project involves construction of a new 500-mile railroad track between Riyadh and Jeddah, and another 75-mile line linking Jubail with Dammam, as well as upgrading of the existing railroad between Dammam and Riyadh. To be completed in three years, this expansion will boost Saudi industry and improve existing shipping patterns in the region. Transport Minister Dr. Jubarah bin Eid Al-Suraiseri has expressed satisfaction at the response to an investors' conference organized in London, U.K., in January by Saudi Railway Organization (SRO), which attracted over 150 companies, both Saudi and foreign. SRO President Khaled Al-Yahya reports that in 2004, the existing railway system transported 1.3 million passengers and a billion tons of freight.
Meanwhile, Minister of Culture and Information Iyad Madani, at the opening in Riyadh yesterday of a seminar on ‘Germany and Arab Culture’ organized by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS), referred to the attention given to the visit of Chancellor Schröder and to the deep-rooted ties between the two countries.