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Economists call for improving transportation among Arab nations
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08:12, January 19, 2009

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Arab economists in Kuwait City on Sunday, ahead of an Arab economic summit, called for improving transportation network in and between Arab nations to liberalize Arab economic and social development.

At a transport forum as a preparatory meeting of the first-ever Arab Economic, Development and Social Summit, Secretary General of the Arab Union for Air Transport Abdulwahab Tuffaha called for liberalizing air transport to allow the movement of people and products, the Kuwaiti official news agency KUNA reported.

Tuffaha said the aviation companies ranked second in the Arab world in terms of investment, but "governments looked to this sector with a narrow vision and thus air transportation suffered from restriction."

Global Coalition for Efficient Logistics (GCEL) Operations Manager Samer Khoury attributed the weakness of Arab transportation sector to the limited railway system which must be expanded, adding that the Arab ports are also limited in capacity, with only 35 of the total 95 ports having large containers.

International Finance Corporation's MENA Vice President Rashad-Rudolf Kaldany warned that the limitations of transportation would cast negative impact on the development process, saying there was "a receding desire on the part of financiers to engage in transportation projects."

Former Egyptian Transport Minister Essam Sharaf said transportation has become an international affair, instead of a regional or local one, explaining that transportation was an important factor in the competitiveness of any country.

According to a report of the Egyptian news agency MENA, the Arab economic summit, due to be held on Monday and Tuesday, will tackle a plan to forge the integration of Arab road and railway network, in view of benefiting commercial transportation and exchanges of people among the Arab nations.

The report said the plan is to upgrade the Arab railway system by building linking rails, introducing electronic system and advanced management system, aiming at connecting a total length of 10,362 kilometers of railways for the first phase.


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