Saudi Arabia and Oman complete construction of highway

Posted on 9th October 2015

Saudi Arabia and Oman have completed the construction of a highway linking both countries, which is expected to reduce travel distance between them by 800 kilometres (km).

Ahmad Hilal Al-Busaidi, Omani ambassador in Saudi Arabia, said: "The new road, which will cut the distance between Saudi Arabia and Oman by about 800 km, will be opened soon for public."

Al-Busaidi added that administrative infrastructures, such as immigration posts and check points on both sides of the road, have "delayed the inauguration" of the project, according to Constructionweekonline news report.

Al Rosan Contracting, which had been commissioned to build 256km of the road on the Saudi side, said the project had been a big challenge because the road is constructed through shifting sands across the Empty Quarter.

"Trying to build a road on shifting sand dunes was always going to be difficult," the company said.

"The project involved building sand bridges across salt flats and high rising dunes, so the selection of adaptable and reliable equipment was critical for this project, not least because of the aggressive environment, intense heat, sand and remoteness of the site."

A statement by Volvo Construction Equipment said the project used 95 Volvo machines, including a range of articulated haulers, excavators and motor graders, through the several stages of the project.

"The construction of the 256 km road was completed in sections and involved gigantic amounts of sand 'cut and fill'. The sand transported to construct the bridge was 130 million m3 the equivalent of 26 giant pyramids and 12 million m3 of material was needed to protect the embankment of sand from wind and water," it said.

Saudi Arabia has reportedly spent up to $426.6m (SAR1.6bn) on the road, which runs through the Kingdom's eastern province of Al-Ahsa, and the Rub al-Khali desert (Empty Quarter), ending at the Omani border.

According to Arab News, the road spans 160kmn inside the Sultanate, starting from Tanam in the country's Ibri province, and passes through oilfields all the way to the Empty Quarter.

"The road has a direct access to south Oman," Al-Busaidi said.

Inside Saudi Arabia, the road is 519-km long, including a 247-km stretch from the Omani border to Shaybah and the 319-km stretch from Shaybah to the Batha-Haradh road, which leads to Al-Kharj and then to Riyadh.

The road is the first overland direct link between both countries, which are currently linked through the UAE across 2,000km.

Travellers shuttling between both countries, especially during key religious months such as Hajj, will no longer have to cross the UAE, the diplomat said.

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