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|10 February, 2019

Saudi-Jordanian fund sign MoU to build railway connecting Aqaba, Maan

$705mln project constitutes the first phase of Jordan’s national railway network

Image used for illustrative purpose. Workers are seen at the construction site of the new Weinbergtunnel railway tunnel in Zurich November 26, 2013. Swiss rail operator SBB will start to use the five kilometres/3.19 miles long tunnel connecting the suburb of Oerlikon with Zurich central station in June 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Image used for illustrative purpose. Workers are seen at the construction site of the new Weinbergtunnel railway tunnel in Zurich November 26, 2013. Swiss rail operator SBB will start to use the five kilometres/3.19 miles long tunnel connecting the suburb of Oerlikon with Zurich central station in June 2014. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

AMMAN — The Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Saudi-Jordanian Investment Fund (SJIF) on Sunday signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish a railway connecting Aqaba’s seaports to a dry port that will be constructed in Maan Governorate.

The JD500 million project constitutes the first phase of Jordan’s national railway network, a SJIF statement said on Sunday.

The Aqaba-Maan railway and the Maan dry port project, SJIF’s first major investments in Jordan, are expected to enhance Jordan’s transportation sector and its capabilities in logistic services, according to the statement.

Under the MoU, ASEZA and SJIF are to conduct thorough technical and feasibility studies, upon the completion of which the two parties would commence project development.

The project encompasses constructing a new railway line inside the city of Aqaba that connects the southern seaport and container terminal with the existing line, renovating the existing railway connecting the city of Aqaba to Maan, procuring new rolling stock, wagons, and other equipment, and constructing a dry port in Maan on a 4-million square metres land plot.

The railway is projected to operate along a 195-kilometre rail track, transporting cargo containers from and to Aqaba, as well as phosphate from Shidiya mines to Aqaba for export.

The project, a public-private endeavour, seeks to “provide more efficient transportation solutions and support growth and job creation in the local communities in Aqaba and Maan”, the statement added.

ASEZA Chief Commissioner Nasser Shraideh said that the Aqaba-Maan railway and the Maan dry port “would reduce transportation costs and spur the development of the logistics ecosystem in southern Jordan, and could be the first step in the development of a national railway network”.

“We are confident that our partnership with ASEZA will serve as a model for effective cooperation between the public and private sectors — a model we hope will demonstrate Jordan’s investment potential, encourage future investments in Jordan, and improve Jordan’s competitiveness, in addition to fostering further cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Jordan,” SJIF Chairman Hisham Attar was quoted as saying during the signing ceremony.

Omar Alwir, the CEO of SJIF, explained during the signing ceremony that the fund’s investment strategy revolves around building a diversified portfolio along three key tracks: investing in large infrastructure projects; pursuing investments in key economic sectors, such as healthcare, information technology and tourism; and participating in the growth acceleration of established Jordanian companies by providing growth capital.

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