Metro buzz has already started


    By Sean Davidson

    As Dubai prepares for yet another historic moment, the growing interest in the region’s first Metro project is understandable and encouraging.

    Days ahead of the 09-09-09 launch, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) continues its herculean effort to change local transportation patterns, to educate residents on the advantages of public transport and to entice them with technologies hitherto unheard of in the GCC.

    It’s no wonder then that online readers lapped up our look at what effects the rail project could have on the emirate. Almost every part of the economy – from petrol retailing to residential and commercial real estate to hospitality and retail – will be touched by this revolution.

    Businesses gearing up to benefit from the Metro’s success will closely monitor how many residents adapt to this new way of life. The Metro’s impact will be defined by how many residents commute on it.

    For its part, the RTA has done everything it can to ensure the ride is smooth. Peyman Parham, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications, said: “The Metro is a cross between Burj Al Arab in terms of quality and the best shopping mall in terms of the services provided.

    “This is probably the biggest event in the history of Dubai, it’s going to change the way people live. It was completed in four-and-a-half years flat, which is a third of the time similar projects usually take.”

    Only seven per cent of Dubai’s 2.2 million population currently use public transport, a number the RTA is hoping to increase to 30 per cent by 2020. The Metro is intended to cater to a little more than half the total.

    Khalid Hadi, Enoc’s Group Brand and Marketing Manager, said he hoped the new form of transportation would ease traffic on the roads.

    “People should use it to get to work and to visit malls and other places of interest. The fares are very reasonable and I’m very surprised to see how affordable it is. It’s been done to encourage more people to use public transport.”

    Hadi said it was too early to say whether the Metro would affect fuel consumption and, consequently, Enoc’s revenues.

    The real estate sector has so far seen only minimal rises in the prices of homes near stations because the Metro’s possible impact is still uncertain, industry analysts told Emirates Business.

    “The impact on prices so far has been marginal,” said Jesse Downs, Director of Research and Advisory Services, Landmark.

    In our other top stories, Assistant Editor Keith Fernandez’s report on the number of new hotels readying for a launch post Ramadan was the second most read.

    As 25 new hotels enter the UAE market in the last quarter of this year, adding 6,900 rooms, Dubai will face the effects of excess room capacity for the first time.

    To compete for business, each new player will need to differentiate its offering from established crowd-pullers with its own unique proposition.

    Moving from hospitality to aviation, a report on rate cuts for premium travellers was the next most read story.

    While June’s fall in premium traffic eased from a 24 per cent drop in May, the improvement came at the expense of a steeper decline in revenue, which fell 41 per cent in the second quarter as fares shrank.

    To mitigate these losses, carriers like Singapore Airlines and British Airways slashed first and business class fares, thus putting it within the reach of the much larger economy traveller base.

    Colin Simpson’s review of the Samsung I8910 and our travel feature on Amman wrapped up last weekend’s top five online reads.