By Ashfaq Ahmed, Chief Reporter www.gulfnews.com
Dubai: It’s your city. And it’s your Metro now. Fireworks lit up the night sky, motorists honked their horns and scores of onlookers cheered as the first train rolled out of the station, past the towering skyline along Shaikh Zayed Road, opening a new chapter in Dubai’s history.
Dubai became the first Gulf state to have a metro and joined the league of megacities around the world that have similar transport systems.
His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, bought the first ticket on the Dubai Metro, after which the first train left Mall of the Emirates station: 09/09/09 will remain etched on a board at the station.
“I thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for this great job. If it weren’t for this collective effort we would not have achieved this. My message to the world is that life is all about challenges and the people of the UAE, under the leadership of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, love challenges and we are up to them,” Shaikh Mohammad said.
“I congratulate Shaikh Khalifa and the people of the UAE on this huge achievement. This is an achievement for all Arabs,” he said.
Motorists drove slowly on Shaikh Zayed Road, following the first train out of the station, and some even parked underneath bridges to catch their first glimpse of the blue streak as it emerged on its maiden voyage to Al Rashidiya Station.
The Metro is part of Shaikh Mohammad’s vision to develop an integrated transport system including the Metro, bus network, marine transport and an advanced road infrastructure.
The world’s longest automated driverless train system, which cost Dh28 billion, has been launched in a record time of four years. It will carry 1.8 million passengers per day by 2020, according to RTA estimates.