By Shafaat Ahmed www.khaleejtimes.com
Pioneering the mass transit system in the region with the world’s largest driverless rail system, Dubai aims to extend the rail network further from the current 75km to over 250km by the next decade.
The extensive network will include tramways as well as more Metro lines, one of which would connect the Dubai International Airport with Al Maktoum International Airport in Jebel Ali. The details were shared withKhaleej Times by Chairman of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) Matar Al Tayer on the sidelines of the inauguration ceremony of the 59th UITP’s (International Association of Public Transport) Congress and Mobility & City Transport Exhibition.
The exhibition was opened by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Crown Prince Shaikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Deputy Ruler of Dubai Shaikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum were also present at the inauguration of the event being held for the first time in the Middle East & North African Region.
“We created a master plan for public transport six years ago and the development of Dubai Metro, bus network, tram and other projects are part of this plan. We are revising the master plan to fit it to the changing scenarios and in the future will add more metro lines and tram networks to the existing ones, creating a network of around 250 kilometres,” said Al Tayer.
He said that the hosting of the five-day conference in Dubai is the UITP’s certificate of appreciation of the city’s rapid progress in mass transport.
While Dubai continues to excel in the delivery of world class public transport system, its neighbours are not lagging behind either. Taking a leaf out of the emirate’s success story, governments across the Gulf states have announced mass transit projects worth billions of dollars, with many already on the verge of completion.
“Projects worth $170 billion are taking shape in different parts of MENA region, even as the UAE’s Union railway is taking shape very quickly. We are very proud to be the pioneers of mass transit in the region and eager to share our experience and expertise with our neighbours,” Al Tayer added.
Some of the biggest projects in the region include the Makkah Metro project which will complete this year, the 1,500km UAE Union railway project, Abu Dhabi’s 131km Metro project, the ambitious $12billion GCC railway, the 184km Bahrain Metro project etc.
Qatar, which would become the first Middle East country to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, is building four separate Metro lines at an exponential cost by the end of this decade.
With the sole aim of doubling the market share of public transport, it was apt for UITP to come to the region at a time when the Middle East along with other parts of Asia is leaving others behind in the race of development.
The keynote address at the inauguration of UITP conference was the reflection of the above sentiment — the return of Asia to the centre stage.
Dr Kishore Mahbubani, the keynote speaker, said that the choice of Dubai as the venue for UITP’s 59thcongress indicates that Asia has returned to prominence after 200 years of Western hegemony.
He said that it was only a matter of time before China and India would leave the US behind as the world’s biggest economies and urged the Asian powerhouses to invest on public transport.
“Public transport will drive the economies forward, it is going to be the engine of growth and hence the preferred choice of the emerging economies. The world cannot afford to depend on private vehicles alone for various reasons, one of which is obviously the global warming,” said Dr Mahbubani, who is the Dean of Lee Kwan Yee School of Public Policy in Singapore.
Around 250 exhibitors including world’s leading public transport operators, manufacturers, innovators and academician will share their expertise and experience at the Mobility Congress and exhibition that covers an area of over 3,000 square metres.