Leading experts and policy-makers from transport sector will speak on the latest project developments and key issues at the three-day GCC Transport and Railways Conference opening here Monday. Regulators, operators, manufacturers, contractors, consultants, ministers from transport, finance and public works besides representatives from international organisations will be attending the conference jointly organised by the General Secretariat of the GCC, the Federation of GCC Chambers, Qatar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Al Iktissad Wal-Aamal Group. The central theme of the conference is focusing on the prospects for the development of the railway network in the Arab region. The assembly will also mull topics related to the development of the transportation, communication and railway industry in the GCC countries, the GCC road and railway plans and programmes, developments and challenges in implementing these plans and projects. Among the top speakers are Qatar Railways Company CEO Saad Al Muhannadi, Saudi Railways Company CEO Rumaih Al Rumaih, Saudi Ports Authority President Abdulaziz Al Tuwaijri, UAE National Transport Authority Executive Director Abdullah Salem Al Katheeri, Kuwait Metro Company General Manager Khaled Al Awadhi, GCC-SG, World Bank, KSA, Senior Advisor Ramiz El Assar. This conference will bring together over 400 high level participants form around 22 countries, organisers said. Railway and metro projects for the transport of passengers and goods top the list of GCC transport projects with total investments estimates exceeding US$100 Billion. National railway projects in each of the GCC countries will integrate with the joint GCC railway project, a 2,200 km network that will link the six Gulf countries at a total cost of more than US$ 15.4 Billion, according to private estimates. This network will carry passengers and goods at speeds of 200 km/h and 80-120 km/h, respectively. Engineering design work on the project is underway in all the GCC countries and expected to be completed by 2012 while the completion and commissioning of the entire network is expected by 2017/2018, according to industry observers. It is expected that the GCC region and the Middle East generally will become the largest site for rail projects in the world in the coming five years. These railway networks will be integrated within the transport and communication sectors to create a complete and efficient transport system that can accelerate economic and social development in the GGC countries and the wider Middle East.