Interview: Abdulla bin Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Subaie

How can the public and private sectors boost their contributions to rail infrastructure development?

ABDULLA BIN ABDULAZIZ BIN TURKI AL SUBAIE: Railways typically rely on government funding due to their significant financial impact. However, a recent initiative aims to attract private sector participation in financing infrastructure projects, including railways. Therefore, an investment strategy utilising public-private partnerships (PPPs) could help foster economic growth. Furthermore, Qatar’s Third National Development Strategy (NDS-3) aims to double research and development expenditure by 2030, with 60% of this expenditure coming from the private sector.

In line with Qatar’s ambition to rank among the top-30 on the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s Global Innovation Index, government bodies and stateowned enterprises are driving research, development and innovation. An improved business environment, along with enhanced access to private sector funding, are creating opportunities for private enterprises to contribute significantly to advancing Qatar’s metro and tram networks. These opportunities span infrastructure development, service enhancement and the overall passenger experience. For example, private sector involvement is helping develop real estate around metro stations, driving ridership and helping meet Qatar’s broader goals under its long-term economic plan.

In what ways can GCC countries play a role in a more integrated Asian land transport network?

AL SUBAIE: Qatar, in collaboration with its neighbours in the Gulf, is actively planning the GCC Railway project, which aims to connect Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This network intends to serve as a foundation for potential infrastructure expansions within the region and beyond, fostering robust economic development in the Gulf. The development of a GCC rail network is in line with Qatar’s sustainable growth model and is expected to help facilitate its transformation into a competitive, diversified and innovative economy. Additionally, the rail network is anticipated to enhance the country’s business climate by developing advanced economic infrastructure.

What more can be done to promote the use of rail transport among residents and visitors?

AL SUBAIE: The success of rail transport hinges on the appeal and convenience of services, including feeder options like buses. We collaborate with the Ministry of Transport to extend first- and last-mile options, expand park-and-ride facilities and implement integrated ticketing through the ministry’s Sila app. To align with global practices, the measures to manage transport demand, outlined in the Transport Master Plan for Qatar 2050 aim to enhance the appeal of public transport.

In line with our national vision’s customer-centric approach, we collaborate with major employers and schools to provide convenient transit experiences for employees and students. Additionally, we engage with schools and universities to increase awareness of public transport among the younger generation.

How do you assess the progress towards long-term goals to enhance mobility across the country?

AL SUBAIE: The Qatar National Vision 2030 identifies rail transport systems as vital to meeting future mobility challenges. The country is actively advancing the development of the Doha Metro and Lusail Tram networks, both instrumental during the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Notably, these networks experienced a 500% increase in ridership compared to levels before the event, with 50% of stadium visitors opting to use the metro. Public transport, particularly railways, significantly contributes to a country’s prosperity by providing people access to economic activities. Within the NDS-3 framework, Qatar Rail’s network aligns with growth targets, national outcomes and key clusters. It can support Qatar’s aim to enhance environmental and economic sustainability, and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25%.