By Mohamad Kadry www.khaleejtimes.com
The Dubai Metro, once merely a dreamt up vision of modernity and maturation, has been realised in the most profound of ways, and residents took notice. All around the city at the various metro stations set to officially open, residents applauded the Metro’s launch with many believing that life in the city may never be the same again.
From station to station, onlookers began to gather in hopes of catching a glimpse of something special. At the Rashidiya station, preparations were being made for the arrival of Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, along with other dignitaries and invited guests on their inaugural trip down the Red line. Construction workers could be seen scrambling to clean surfaces from dust and debris in anticipation for the evenings VIP guest list. With a labour force of more than 30,000, workers have been toiling away to complete the Metro project ahead of its auspicious 09/09/09 launch date.
Among those believers is Rhana Natour, an American researcher who has been living in the UAE for nearly a year.
‘Dubai has always been an amazing city,’ she said, ‘but it was often beyond accessibility.’
‘Now, the Metro will bring together once fragmented parts of society into one.’
At Mall of the Emirates, barricades were placed around the domed Galleria as hundreds of patrons began scurrying for a view of the stage set up for the official launch party. Plush sofas and a banquet hall were set up to host media and other VIP’s, as men in tuxedos and white gloves rushed to accommodate the lucky guests.
The mall proved a fitting choice for organisers looking to broadcast the opening ceremonies live in front of everyday residents. Shopping malls in Dubai have long been known to be the main intersection between different segments of society, often segregated by socioeconomic and nationalistic constraints. But for the first time, the Metro aims at breaking these barriers and bringing together residents at unprecedented levels.
Pacing along the mall pavilion, Ali Khamis Alshamsi looks out over the growing crowds calmly. The young Emirati commuted from his hometown of Al Ain to witness the festivities, ‘a great moment’ in his history he believed.
‘The Metro project is bigger than just an engineering marvel,’ he noted, ‘It is a testament to the role our nation will play in the Middle East as well as the international community.’
Even in the midst of an economic recession, Alshamsi believes that ‘UAE leadership is committed to improving our lives, even under the most difficult of circumstances.’
‘They promised us a Metro today, and they delivered.’
In a region of the world so often saturated with conflict and instability, the Metro may work as a catalyst for progress and prosperity, a testament of faith for all future generations.
As Alshamsi walks along, he grabs for his infant brothers hand instinctively and looks up at a giant promotional banner hanging from the glass dome ceiling.
‘This is the future of our country,’ he smirked.’
‘My brother. My Metro.’