Qatar to Announce Bids for $36BN Rail Project

Qatar, host of the 2022 soccer World Cup, plans to offer the first tender for its railway and metro system in the next three months, an executive of the Gulf state's railways company was quoted as saying on Tuesday. Preliminary designs had already been prepared, Abdullah al-Subaie, managing director of the Qatar Railways Company, said on Qatar's state news agency. Subaie said the total cost of the Qatar railway project will reach 130 billion riyals ($35.7 billion) and that more than 1.2 million tonnes of iron would be required for the project. There will be a total of 100 stations in the project, he added. He did not give details about the size of the contracts, but said they would include a tender for digging tunnels and setting up stations for the network.

The world's top liquefied natural gas exporter, spared by popular unrest sweeping the Arab world, plans to spend over $125 billion in the next five years on construction and energy projects and the OPEC member's economy is seen to grow strongly. Analysts polled by Reuters expect its economy to expand by 15.8 percent in 2011. Subaie said work on the system would start with the metro and its first phase be ready by 2021, one year before the soccer World Cup. The entire project would be completed by 2026. The six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members plan to spend more than $100 billion on a rail project linking them up by 2017, with long-range plans to extend the high-speed network as far as Yemen in the south of the Arabian Peninsula.

Qatar's copious natural gas reserves have turned it into an economic powerhouse and the world's richest country per-capita, and driven its bold ambitions. The tiny Gulf Arab state has allocated 40 percent of its budget between now and 2016 to infrastructure projects. These include $11 billion on a new international airport, $5.5 billion on a deep-water seaport and $1 billion for a transport corridor in the capital, Doha. It will spend $20 billion on roads. Subaie said he urged Qatari companies to build partnerships with international firms to work on the construction of the project. ($1=3.638 Qatari riyals) (Reporting by Martina Fuchs; Editing by Reed Stevenson)

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