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161 years on, history repeated itself in November again this Saturday. As the first railway stretch of the 11.4-km long Mumbai Metro train conducted its first end-to-end trial from Versova-Andheri to Ghatkopar, it gave a sense of déjà vu.
A project rail boom within the transport sector in the Middle East and North Africa is expected to materialise in the next three years as the region allocates more than $250bn worth of investments in various rail projects.
Also today, freight transport and logistics in the Middle East region are highly inefficient and dominated by road transport. Governments in the region have initiated multi-billion US Dollar programs to establish a rail network in the Middle East / GCC to benefit from the lower emissions of rail freight transport and to accommodate the significantly increased demand.
The Economist Intelligence Unit forecasts that the UAE's non-oil exports will rise by around a third over the next five years, to $294bn by 2016. Much of this increase will come from intra-Arab trade, and the new rail network will certainly be expected to do its part to speed transaction flows across the Middle East.