Work is already underway to identify those lines that would be suitable for financing as PPPs and these are likely to include links between key industrial areas and ports such as Sohar and Duqm. It is anticipated that only a small proportion of the network will be suitable for financing on this basis because the country's largely mountainous topography means construction costs are relatively high on many routes.

Meanwhile, the ministry has shortlisted three bidders for the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract to build the initial phase of the network, a 207km line from Sohar to Buraimi. These include:

  • Saipem (Italy), Rizzani De Eccher (Italy), Dogus Insaat (Turkey)
  • Porr (Austria), Yuksel Insat (Turkey), Sarooj Construction (Oman) and Daewoo E&C (South Korea), and
  • Salini Impregilo (Italy).

The contract is due to be concluded later this year.