Attention is awaited to reveal comprehensive details and information about the economic corridor project linking India to the Middle East and Europe after Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the project during the G20 summit in India.
The project has received significant support from the United States and the European Union, which will include the development of a new ship and railway corridor.
In terms of the great ambitions attached to the project, the words of leaders during the G20 summit were expressive of this.
Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the project will “contribute to developing and rehabilitating the infrastructure, which includes railways, connecting ports, increasing the passage of goods and services, and enhancing trade exchange between the parties concerned.”
While US President Joe Biden said that the corridor will provide “endless opportunities” for the countries concerned, “making trade and export of clean energy much easier.” “The world is at a historical point and turning point. It is the point where the decisions we make today will affect the course of our future – all of our futures for decades to come. The point where our investments will affect it is more important than ever.”
As for Indian Prime Minister Modi, he believed that the corridor would give a new direction for communication and sustainable development to the entire world.
The parties agreed to come up with an “action plan” within the next 60 days.
The story of the economic corridor
The project has been in preparation since July 2022, as Biden spoke about the need for greater regional economic integration without revealing anything.
Last January, the White House began holding talks with regional partners about this proposal.
By last spring, maps and written assessments of the Middle East’s existing rail infrastructure were being drafted.
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and his senior White House aides Hochstein and Brett McGurk, toured in May to meet officials in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and India.
All parties have since worked to finalize the details of the agreement announced at the G20 summit, according to the Associated Press.
What is the economic corridor project?
The Indian Express newspaper said that the project is part of the Partnership for Global Infrastructure Investment (PGII), and will be a railway and freight corridor, and the project will aim to increase trade between the countries involved, including energy products.
The economic corridor project includes a railway line, in addition to an electricity transmission cable, a hydrogen pipeline and a high-speed data cable, according to a document prepared by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The document also described the project as a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations.”
The project aims to enable more trade between the countries involved, including energy products.
The importance of the project
Amid this momentum, questions arise about the importance of the project for the region and how the participating countries, especially Saudi Arabia, benefit from it.
Economist Dr. Ihsan Bouhaliqa said, in a telephone interview with Al Arabiya.net, that the countries that will be part of the corridor’s route will benefit greatly from the project, pointing out that India had an ambition to reach the countries from which it exports or imports without obstacles or interruption. This required adequate infrastructure and equipped ports, and this project will provide all of that.
Regarding Saudi Arabia, Bu Hulaika said, “All the elements required for the success of the economic corridor are available in the Kingdom, and whoever looks at the project will find it completely compatible, as if it is a piece of Vision 2030, in several aspects.”
The first aspect is related to the transport strategy and logistics services, part of which is the railway network.
“Perhaps the point of convergence between the two initiatives (the Belt and Road and the Economic Corridor) is that they are centered on cross-country infrastructure, but the main difference is that the focus of the Belt and Road Initiative is national (creating a global communication network with China as its focus), while the corridor is a multi-pronged partnership for communication and linking The countries that are parties to the partnership, as the corridor is a global partnership.”
In addition, China has allocated more than a trillion dollars to finance the Belt and Road Initiative, and has mostly worked with countries individually, while the corridor is a multi-pronged initiative.
Dr. Ihsan Bouhliqa
The corridor consists of an eastern corridor linking India to the Arabian Gulf region, and a northern corridor linking the Arabian Gulf region to Europe.
Connecting the three regions
The corridor will connect the three regions through advanced communication infrastructure, strengthening the economic relationship and enabling access to goods, energy and data for individuals and companies.
In particular, the project will do 3 things, the first of which is railways, where railway lines and port communications from India, Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Gulf and Europe will be integrated, leading to the smooth transportation of goods.
3 main sectors
Bouhlaika told Al Arabiya.net that Saudi Arabia has a plan for a major expansion of the railway network, which is part of the national strategy for transport and logistics services, which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in mid-2021.
On the second aspect, the importance of the energy sector in the economic corridor project is highlighted by developing the energy infrastructure and enabling the production and transportation of green hydrogen. Buhlaiqa says, “I would like to mention here that Saudi Arabia is on its way to becoming the largest producer of green hydrogen, as the factory in NEOM will begin production in 2026 with a capacity of 600 tons per day.”
The third aspect is the data sector, as the project aims to enhance communications and data transfer by constructing a new undersea cable linking the countries of the corridor. Saudi Arabia is investing $15 billion in information infrastructure, in addition to investments in data centers, which amount to $18 billion. Saudi Arabia ranked 21st globally in the number of submarine cables during the year 2021.
In his interview with Al Arabiya.net, Bouhlaiqa believes that the transportation sector will benefit directly from the economic corridor project, in addition to services and industry, as it facilitates and assists the industrial effort, as it facilitates the transportation of semi-manufactured materials so that manufacturing can be completed in other countries for considerations of labor availability or energy availability. “.
The energy sector will also benefit from the project, as it facilitates the export of green hydrogen to Europe, and strengthens the status of economic zones in Saudi Arabia, which were announced several months ago.
“If you look at the project and its benefit to the Saudi economy, the most important aspect is the diversification of the economy, and there is a strategic partnership council between Saudi Arabia and India, and a large part of the path passes through Saudi territory, and this will be reflected in the sectors of supply chains, transportation and logistics services,” according to Bu Hulaika.