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Cablegate: Sheikh Hamed's Railway

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Diana T Fritz 02/05/2007 04:58:09 PM From DB/Inbox: Search Results

Cable
Text:


UNCLAS ABU DHABI 03718

SIPDIS
CXABU:
ACTION: ECON
INFO: AMB MEPI DAO USLO DCM POL FCS P/M

DISSEMINATION: ECON
CHARGE: PROG

APPROVED: AMB:MSISON
DRAFTED: ECON:OJOHN
CLEARED: DCM:RALBRIGHT

VZCZCADI221
PP RUEHC RUEHZM RUEHDE RHEHNSC
DE RUEHAD #3718 2931312
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191312Z OCT 04
FM AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6418
INFO RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 4415
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS ABU DHABI 003718

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR NEA/ARP, NEA/RA, EB
STATE PASS USTR

E.O. 12958: DECL
TAGS: ECON ETRD EFIN PREL PTER IZ TC
SUBJECT: SHEIKH HAMED'S RAILWAY


1. (SBU) Summary: The Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department
of the Economy suggested to Ambassador on October 17 that
the U.S. focus more of its regional efforts on economic
reform. He asked for USG support for a railway that would
stretch from the Gulf of Oman up to Jordan. End Summary.

2. (SBU) On October 17, Ambassador and EconChief met with
Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of the Economy, Sheikh
Hamed bin Zayed, to follow-up on his idea of building a
trans-Arabian peninsula railway which could connect to the
proposed EuroMed railway in Jordan. Sheikh Hamed had
mentioned the concept briefly to USTR Zoellick last week
and Abu Dhabi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed had
asked that he follow up with Ambassador. Before turning to
his railway proposal, Sheikh Hamed encouraged the USG to
focus its efforts in the Arab world on economic reform. In
his view, he said, the region's highest priority was
economic reform and job creation; democratic reform could
follow. He noted rhetorically "people need jobs before
they go to the polls."

3. (SBU) Sheikh Hamed then turned his discussion to the
EU's proposal for a EuroMed railway project stretching from
Morocco to Syria. He noted that he had told German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder that the proposed route made
little economic sense, because goods didn't flow over that
route. He counter-proposed a railway that would stretch
from the Indian Ocean up the Arabian Peninsula and to
Jordan, where it could connect with a EuroMed railway
network. This route would tie together the Asian and
European markets. According to Sheikh Hamed, Schroeder
liked the idea, but was unable to get EU support.

4. (SBU) Sheikh Hamed explained that the proposed railway
would stretch from the port of Fujairah on the Gulf of Oman
through the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and then through Saudi
Arabia to Jordan. This route would bypass the vulnerable
straits of Hormuz. He emphasized that Jordan could benefit
either as the terminus of the railway or as the
intersection between two major railway networks. According
to Sheikh Hamed, Chinese, Indians, Saudi, and Kuwaiti
investors were already expressing interest in the project.
He asked for U.S. support for the project, both for as an
economic development program and as a regional integration
program and suggested that post send a participant to the
MEED conference in Dubai on railway projects in the region
for more information.

5. (SBU) Comment: Sheikh Hamed is an "up-and-comer" in the
ranks of the ruling Al-Nahyan family, and is regarded as
one of Abu Dhabi's economic reformers. He has laid out, in
his railway proposal, an ambitious vision for regional
economic integration and assistance to poorer countries
(and regions in the UAE). Although we have yet to assess
the commercial merits of this concept, it is clear that
Hamed has the confidence of his elder half brother, Abu
Dhabi Deputy Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed. End
Comment.
Sison

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