Over the past decades, Iraq has faced significant infrastructure challenges due to decades of conflict and instability. However, the Iraqi government is determined to change the tide as it announced on May 27 a billionaire road and rail project to connect Asia and Europe.
1. Development Road
Dubbed the Development Road, and estimated to cost around 17 billion dollars, the infrastructure project aims to tie the Grand Faw Port in Iraq’s oil-rich south to Turkey. The country would be effectively turned into a transit hub by shortening travel time between Asia and Europe and competing with the Suez Canal.
The Development Road is not just a road to move goods or passengers. This road opens the door to development of vast areas of Iraq.Farhan al-Fartousi, Director General of the General Company for Ports of Iraq, for Reuters
The project was announced at a conference convening delegates from the Arab Gulf states, Syria and Jordan. According to Reuters, a senior government aide said regional investment was on the table. Before courting Arab interest, on 21 March, Iraq and Turkiye agreed on a number of economic deals, including the rail and road network.
The network will start from Faw Port, which is under construction in south Iraq, and will pass through ten Iraqi governorates. The project foresees the construction of electric high speed trains for freight and passengers and is expected to cost around 10.5 billion dollars, while the 1,200 kilometre motorway will cost 6.5 billion dollars.
“We will make this line active again and tie it to other countries,” said Fartousi, having in mind plans to transport tourists and pilgrims to Shiite holy sites in Iraq and Mecca in Saudi Arabia for the Haj pilgrimage.
2. Regional investment
With the support and investment of regional partners, Iraq’s government envisions high-speed trains moving goods and passengers at up to 300 kilometres per hour, links to local industry hubs and an energy component that could include oil and gas pipelines.
On May 16, the competition of designs for building a rail and road network with Turkiye was announced by the Director General of the Public Company for Rail in Iraq, Younus Khalid.
“This is a giant and strategic project, the largest in Iraq and one of the largest projects of its kind in the region…It will complement the Faw Port project and will turn Iraq into a major logistics hub,” said Khalid.
The project is expected to be completed in 2028 or 2029 and will largely boost Iraq’s trade with Europe via Turkiye.