"We are reviewing the alignment of the train network, because the idea is to link Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, and we also want to link it to the port and the airport Ahmed says. "We need to decide the exact alignments – the most feasible and cost-effective approach.

"We will finalise this by the end of the year, and then we will work with our brothers in Saudi Arabia to see what is the best procurement method to finance this project. Maybe by the first or second quarter of next year, we'll have a more solid plan about a timeline for implementation."

The 90km link between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain is expected to cost $US 4.5bn, while plans are also in place for the development of a 40km causeway between Bahrain and Qatar. Discussions between the two countries over the double-track railway and dual carriageway road are still underway, but the aim is to complete the work in time for the 2022 Fifa World Cup which Qatar is hosting.

"Meetings are being conducted as usual; there are so many committees, financial and technical, and it is not an easy project," Ahmed says. "Plans keep changing, and designs, obviously, but it's going on. It has to be completed before the World Cup."