JEDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday inaugurated a 6.7 billion euro ($7.87 billion) high-speed rail linking the two holiest cities in Islam, part of efforts to boost tourism revenues as the country seeks to shed dependence on oil exports.
The 450-km (280-mile) Haramain Railway connecting Mecca and Medina with the Red Sea coastal city of Jeddah is one of the largest transport projects in the Middle East, targeting nearly 60 million passengers annually. Commercial operations are set to begin next week.
“The journey between the Haramain (two holy mosques) is now shorter and easier than at any time before,” Transport Minister Nabil al-Amoudi told dignitaries gathered at the Jeddah station. “The project highlights the kingdom’s commitment to serving Islam and Muslims.”