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Saudi Arabia-Oman highway set to open this year

The highway is one of the longest in the Middle East that passes through one of the harshest, extreme climate in the world, overcoming extreme logistical challenges and achieving demanding service requirements to reach Saudi Arabia?s ambitious infrastructure development programme, according to a report. (Image source: Carsten ten Brink/Flickr)

Oman and Saudi Arabia are working hard to complete the work on the first-ever direct land link between the two neighbouring countries by the end of this year, said a report

The project has been termed as an ?engineering marvel?, having been built through the sands of the Empty Quarter, which is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, reported Times of Oman.

The existing 52-km one-way road from Hafeet to Wadi Saa will be transformed into a dual carriageway.

More than 130mn cu/m of sand were removed as the sultanate gears up to open the 680-km-long road to the public, said the report, citing the Saudi ambassador Eid Al Thaqafi.

?It?s about to be completed. There were some delays in road works. From the Omani side, the road work has been completed as the distance is shorter compared to the Saudi Arabian side. For the Saudi side, the road passes through a very tough geographical area, which is the Empty Quarter,? explained Al Thaqafi.

Presently, the quickest route between the two countries is the 1,638-km-long road passing through the UAE which takes about 16 to 18 hours. Once the new road opens, it is expected to save more than 800km of the journey, said the report.

In Oman, the road begins from the area of Tanam in Ibri, continuing through the oilfields until it reaches the Empty Quarter, where the Oman-Saudi border is located, it added.

Statistics in 2015 indicated that the annual volume of goods (imports and exports) traded across the Saudi-Omani border was 2.1mn tonnes. ?It is estimated that the new road will contribute to the good growth of trade activities between the two countries,? the ambassador said.