In the realm of advanced transport systems, the UAE stands as a groundbreaking pacesetter. Striding forth in innovation, the country is continuously adopting cutting-edge technologies in its shift towards smart transportation.
Khalid Alhogail, the President of the International Association of Public Transport, revealed that an estimated $100 bn in investment is flowing into public transport projects across the MENA region. Additionally, the UAE, he said, is at the forefront.
This overview presents a glimpse of some of the new transport systems poised to transform the UAE.
Central to the upcoming UAE’s transport systems is the Etihad Rail project—a sweeping nationwide railway network spanning 1,200 kilometers. Designed to connect all major industrial areas and ports, it serves as a crucial backbone for the transport system nationwide.
Strategically planned and meticulously built, the railway significantly bolsters transportation and logistics. It seamlessly links the seven emirates, facilitating swift and efficient intercity travel.
Moreover, the benefits of the Etihad Rail are manifold. A reduction in travel time, increased transport efficiency, and better connectivity are just the tip of the iceberg.
Furthermore, the rail system is environmentally sustainable, contributing to the country’s dedication to reducing its carbon footprint.
A major evolution in the UAE’s transport systems is the recent electrification of the traditional abra.
In May 2023, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) in Dubai introduced the ‘First Autonomous Electric Abra’. According to HE Mattar Al Tayer of the RTA, the aim is to “convert 25 percent of the total mobility journeys in Dubai into self-driving journeys by 2030.”
Eliminating noisy, polluting engines in favor of quiet, emission-free technology, the Electric Abra is a significant leap towards a sustainable water transport system. Furthermore, they notify the control center about any deviations from planned operations.
Upcoming Ropeway System
Another ambitious project is on the horizon—the development of a ropeway system, commonly known as cable cars.
In 2021, the RTA entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Zhong Tang Sky Railway Group, a leader in the suspended railway sector. The partnership aims to create a cutting-edge suspended transport network within Dubai.
The addition of a ropeway system stands to considerably impact the city’s mobility and tourism. The RTA’s overarching goal is to increase public transportation usage by 26 percent by 2030. Ultimately, this aligns with their objective of establishing Dubai as the premier destination for living, business, and tourism.
Another pioneering advancement in the transport systems of the UAE is the revolutionary Hyperloop. It is a proposed mode of passenger and freight transportation, yielding ultra-high-speed transit across cities.
In essence, the Hyperloop is designed to propel a pod-like vehicle through a nearly airless tube, effortlessly breaking speed limits set by traditional modes of transportation. For example, consider the journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, which can take two hours by road. With Hyperloop, this barely becomes a 12-minute dash.
The promised speed of these trains is astonishing, reaching up to 1,000 km per hour. This is three times as fast as high-speed rail and over ten times faster than the usual rail.
In 2021, the Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, announced a promising agreement. The RTA of Dubai has partnered with Cruise, a leading US-based autonomous vehicle company, which will operate self-driving taxis and ride-hailing services in the emirate.
This agreement demonstrates Dubai’s commitment to achieving its self-driving technology vision by 2030. In addition, it makes Dubai the very first non-US city where self-driving Cruise vehicles will commercially operate.
Significantly, these autonomous vehicles have the potential to elevate road safety standards. Likewise, these vehicles will be environmentally friendly, utilizing all-electric technology.
The fast-paced progression of this project suggests that the official launch, currently aimed for the end of 2023, is well on track to becoming a reality.
As the UAE continues to evolve its innovative transport systems, the next frontier is in the skies: flying taxis.
HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, named this project, which plans to introduce aerial taxi stations managed by the RTA. The project aims to connect four prime areas of Dubai: Downtown Dubai (Burj Khalifa area), Dubai Marina, Dubai International Airport, and Palm Jumeirah.
Capable of reaching top speeds of up to 300 km per hour, these taxis will transform the cityscape, significantly shortening travel times. Moreover, they will be able to accommodate up to four passengers and a pilot, making them a viable option for groups and families.
The Dubai Ruler has set a timeline for this adventurous project, with services expected to commence by 2026.
Within the ever-expanding landscape of transport systems in the UAE, the futuristic Sky Pod concept emerges as an intriguing possibility.
These high-speed electric Sky Pods, or SkyWays or Unicars, are designed to move passengers and cargo swiftly between the emirates at impressive speeds of 150 kph to 500 kph.
At present, rigorous testing of the unicars takes place at The Sharjah Research, Technology, and Innovation Park. Upon successful testing, Sharjah authorities plan to greenlight the construction of routes within the city.
Additionally, there are aspirations for the Sky Pods to further connect with other emirates in the region.
The impact of these cutting-edge transport solutions on the UAE’s vision of a smart and sustainable future is undeniable. As the nation moves towards environmentally friendly and efficient modes of transportation, the UAE stands as a beacon of innovation, setting the stage for the world to follow.
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