The event is held to mark the inaugural training course of the CTE which was established in 2011 in culmination of the successful partnership between the RTA and the UITP over the past years, and the huge success of Dubai Emirate, represented by the RTA, in hosting the 59th UITP Congress & Exhibition held during 10 – 14 April 2011.
The opening of the Forum, which was held in JW Marriott Marquis – Dubai, was attended by Excellency Dr. Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahmam Al-Ohaly, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia cum Chairman of the UITP MENA Region; H.E. Abdulla Al-Zarri, Director General of Sharjah Transport; Engineer Ibrahim Khalil Katabkhana, CEO of Jeddah Metro; Engineer Khalid Mohammed Hashim, CEO of Transport Division, Department of Transport; Saeed Al Hamli, Manager of Transport Office, Department of Transport, Abu Dhabi; and Adel Al Awadi, Director General of SERCO Saudi Arabia cum Manager of Strategic Partnerships, SERCO Middle East; in addition to members of the Strategic Committee of the UITP and representatives of transport sector in the region.
The Forum, which will continue sessions for three days, will discuss a myriad of topics including the importance of public transport, integrated systems oriented to achieve a sustainable urban transport, and the role of public transport authorities and regulations. It will also cast light on the contractual procedures between operators and authorities, means of funding and supporting public transport projects, and funding of PPP in public transport projects.
The RTA will review its experience in formulating the Strategic Transport Plan, Operation & Maintenance of the Dubai Metro, challenges of the global crunch & funding of public transport projects, and RTA’s approach in dealing with contractors, be it operators, consultants and contractors.
In his opening speech of the Forum, Al Tayer said: The MENA Centre for Transport Excellence aims to boost public transport strategies in the MENA region, establish an information center providing the best transport & mobility practices, train specialists of transport and mobility on the best international practices in this regard, conduct surveys and researches in the field of mobility and transport, enhance the cooperation and exchange of expertise between transport entities in the region and beyond, as well as universities, and diffusing the public transport culture across the countries of the region, and assist countries of the region to have exposure to successful practices in the field of mass transit to meet their needs in providing transport to their populace.
“The RTA assigns paramount importance to public transport sector and is keen on overhauling it in terms of quality and efficiency. It also seeks to provide a full range of integrated mass transit modes spanning the Dubai Metro, buses, and marine transit means characterized by high quality and wide geographical reach spanning the entire districts of the Emirate as the public transit means currently serve more than 1.2 million commuters per day. To boost the awareness of using mass transit means, the RTA launched in November 2010 the first edition of the Public Transport Day initiative, where the public transit systems, comprising the Metro, public buses and the water bus, are offered free of charge on this day for Nol card holders. This initiative contributed to encouraging various community segments to use public transport means, increased the public transport ridership, and boosted the pioneering role of Dubai Emirate in uplifting the profile of public transport, showing concern for environmental issues, and realizing sustainable development.”
Al Tayer invited transport authorities and agencies in the region to take part in the Public Transport Day initiative on the first of November every year.
Ending his speech, Al Tayer praised Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ohaly, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chairman of UITP MENA Region, for supporting RTA efforts in staging the UITP Conference and Exhibition in Dubai 2010, besides playing an instrumental role in establishing the MENA Center for Transport Excellence, wishing him all success.
Al Tayer also congratulated Jasim Saif Al Selaiti, Chairman and Managing Director of Qatar Transport Company, on taking the Chairmanship of the UITP MENA Region.
Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Ohaly reviewed the phases experienced in the relationships between the MENA region with the activities of the UITP which was restricted in the initial phase to individual participations from government and private organizations without having any weight to the region in the UITP. This continued till 2005 when the General Assembly of the UITP endorsed opening a branch in the Middle East to be stationed in Dubai. This followed the staging of two events; one in Bahrain and the other in Dubai during which it was agreed to open an office in Dubai. Engineer Abdul Aziz Malik was the first Chairman of the UITP MENA. During this period the Office became one of the most active divisions of the UITP worldwide with membership exceeding 100 and the Office held several activities including organizing the MENA congress biannually and the fourth edition is set to be held in Dubai next year. In 2011 the 59th World Congress was organized outside Europe for the first time in the MENA region where it took place in Dubai and was rated as one of the most successful congresses of UITP. MENA organized the first international taxi symposium in Abu Dhabi. The efforts of the region were culminated by establishing the Middle East Center for Transport Excellence; which is the second of its type after Singapore under the umbrella of the UITP.
Today we witness the start of a structured training program in MENA at this point in time has a significant indication of the willingness of MENA to build local capacities and develop professionals in public transport field as mega public projects have been opened and even more and bigger projects are coming using modern technologies and advanced management.
The beauty of CTE is that training and research work of the CTE will be under one roof allowing for exchange of knowledge, resources, where the outcome of one activity may enhance the other, especially those issues related to MENA region. He commended the huge support provided by the RTA to make this Center a highly promising scientific project with huge success potentials.
Engineer Abdul Aziz Malik, Chairman of the Higher Committee of the MENA Center for Transport Excellence, said: The region which comprises 18 countries spans an area of 8.9 million square kilometers and has a population of more than 381 million persons and harbours 60% of the global oil reserves, and 45% of the global oil gas reserves. The region is experiencing elevated rates of carbon dioxide emissions from transit means and is marked by high rates of private car ownership and the share of public transport means in the mobility of population ranges from 5 to 23% only.
The key challenges confronting the MENA region in the field of public transport is the planning and construction of public transport projects, scarcity of data to support the planning process, lack of qualified and sufficient human resources in the field of public transport, and the low culture and awareness of the importance of public transport in the community and decision makers.
Al Malik explained the key objectives of the Center represented in diffusing knowledge in the field of transportation, exploring the best practices in the region, developing rules to regulate public transport, exploring sustainable solutions tailored to serve the specific needs of the region, promoting the increase of the share of public transport means in the mobility of population to keep pace with the UITP Strategic Plan 2025, conducting researches related to public transport in the region, training & qualifying personnel working in the public transport sector to hone their occupational capabilities, and exchanging expertise in the field of public transport between the region and countries of the globe. He added that in the near future the Center would attend to working out research programs related to public transport, support public transport events, prepare work papers for conferences in the region, and hold training programs in the field of public transport.