Is this the time for UAE investment in Hyperloop?

Billed as the fifth mode of transportation, the UAE is seriously considering the implementation of Hyperloop, but is the time right for such an investment?

COMMENT, Projects, Dubai, Dubai Future Accelerators programme, Dubai Government, Fujairah, Hyperloop, Hyperloop One, Rta

How would you react if somebody was to tell you that the commute time between Dubai and Fujairah could be reduced to just 10 minutes? Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it?

Currently, officials from the world’s leading Hyperloop company are in Dubai to make this seemingly impossible concept a reality. The company, Hyperloop One, is in the emirate as a part of the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme (DFA) to discuss the feasibility of the project with government officials.

The DFA is an intensive 12-week programme that connects top companies and innovative entrepreneurs with powerful partners in Dubai to develop new and innovative solutions. The programme attracted more than 2,200 innovative submissions to the DFA’s first round. Thirty companies are collaborating with government departments to develop transformative projects with multibillion-dollar potential.

Dubai Government has always been at the forefront when it comes to encouraging new ideas that can shape the future. So, Hyperloop One is partnering with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) over the next three months and, by the end of that period – according to company officials – it will be able to show the government that its network will reduce congestion in Dubai by 20% and will reduce emissions by 30%.

The finals of the Dubai International Hyperloop Competition at DFA saw six teams compete to design a prototype for a Hyperloop between Dubai and Fujairah. The six finalists were chosen from 250 entries, from 29 countries around the world. The winner was Mobius, a group of engineers from France, who came up with a plan for both passengers and cargo to be transported at high speed.

But what actually is a hyperloop? This autonomous ‘fifth mode of transportation’ operates by sending pods or capsules through a continuous steel tube maintained at a partial vacuum. Linear induction motors located along the tube accelerate and decelerate the capsule to the appropriate speed for each section of the tube’s route. The environment within the main tube is controlled, creating suction, so that the pods move from one end to another very quickly.

I can’t help but speculate about the cost involved in such a project, however. Is it wise to invest a huge amount of money now, when the entire region is reeling from the effects of low oil prices? The answer to this question is unclear.

Nevertheless, Dubai has a reputation for innovation to uphold, and boasts a proven track record for providing opportunities that support significant economic growth.

As HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has said: “We are embarking on a new era, establishing a government that proactively plans for the future. We must use every single dirham the government spends in developing the future.”

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