By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: At the stroke of 09.09.09pm and the swipe of a card, history was made when the first Dubai Metro train pulled out of the station last night.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, accompanied by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and senior officials, boarded the first train at Mall of the Emirates station en route to Al Rashidiya.
“The Metro is Dubai’s socio-economic future,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
The maiden trip stopped at the Dubai International Financial Centre station, where a commemorative coin was launched.
The next stop was Khalid Bin Waleed station (BurJuman), and an etched poem was inaugurated. Then on to Union Square station where a Time Capsule – Message to the Future was installed.
At Dubai Airport Terminal 3 station a mosaic portrait was unveiled and at the last stop, Al Rashidiya station, a Lego sculpture of a blue Metro train was revealed.
The Metro will bring about a major shift in Dubai’s public transport culture.
Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) spoke at the launch of the Dubai Metro: “Dubai deserves this achievement. There have been serious achievements in this project. Strong hands and minds created, planned and executed. There was determination and support for this achievement.
“We in Dubai established 29 stations in four years: this is the achievement that Dubai deserves. First of all, this shows Dubai’s ability to lead, whether there is a global downturn or not. We are happy to be pioneers in our region, to have achieved this. Our project has been launched with a strong resolution and strong determination, which we have obtained from Shaikh Mohammad’s own energy.
“I thank everyone who has worked on the project. I pledge to you that we will continue the hard work without respite, to execute Dubai’s strategic plan.”
The blue and the purple lines of Dubai Metro will be established with the public and private sectors partnership, said Al Tayer at the press conference held after the official launch of the metro.
He said there is a national policy to connect all emirates and the RTA has signed contracts to develop bus links to Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.
“Dubai Metro will be a big challenge for us starting today (Thursday) as the operation and the maintenance is equally hard,” Al Tayer said.
Abdul Majeed Al Khaja, chief executive officer of RTA’s Rail Agency, said they will not relax as the hard work just started. He also affirmed that all the stations on the Red Line will open by February 2010.
Shaikh Mohammad witnessed unforgettable moments during the process of construction of the Metro.
He laid the foundation stone at a glittering ceremony on March 21, 2006.
Approximately 200,000 Nol cards have been sold to date, Al Tayer said.