UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah breaks ground on world’s longest zip line
The zip line is being developed on Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE, and will be longer than 28 football fields
Zip line operator, Toro Verde, has broken ground on what would be the world’s longest zip line when it opens in December this year.
An initiative of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA), the project is being developed on Jebel Jais, the highest peak in the UAE.
While RAKTDA has yet to reveal the exact length of the zip line, the authority said that it will be longer than 28 football fields and will break the record of Puerto Rico’s The Monster, which at 2,530m holds the current Guinness World Record for longest zip line in the world.
The Monster was developed and is being operated by Toro Verde, the same company that has been engaged to build, operate, and maintain the zip line facility in Ras Al Khaimah.
Toro Verde is a subsidiary of Puerto Rico-based Magno Genesis Holding Group.
The Jebel Jais zip line facility will be developed in three phases. Phase 1 will open to the public later this year in December, while Phase 2 is expected to be ready by April or May next year and Phase 3 by December 2018.
Phase 1 of the project is expected to cost around $2m (AED7.3m) to $3m (AED11m), while the overall value of the project, which will also include a dedicated VIP lounge and welcome centre, will be between $6m (AED22m) and $10m (AED36.7m), Toro Verde told Construction Week.
Haitham Mattar, chief executive officer of RAKTDA, commented: “Phase 1 […] will have two zip lines – the longest zip line in the world and another zip line. However, we may have up to 10 zip lines within the coming year from the opening.”
Noting that the zip line will be the flagship tourism product of the emirate, Mattar said that the project is part of RAKTDA’s strategy to raise the number of visitors to Ras Al Khaimah to three million by 2025.
He added: “Building on the success of last year’s launch of the Jebel Jais Via Ferrata adventure product, the new zip line represents Ras Al Khaimah’s most significant tourism product opening since Al Marjan Island, our coral shaped leisure tourism archipelago.
“This key product launch will further enhance Ras Al Khaimah’s mountain-to-beach offering as the emirate moves towards its goal of attracting one million visitors next year.”
Speaking with Construction Week on the sidelines of a press conference held yesterday, 29 August, to launch the project, Ricardo Lizano, chief operating officer and technical director of Toro Verde, said: “We started [construction work] a week ago, so we are working on the mobilisation of temporary facilities and on earth works. We’re basically in the moving and clearing process. And we’re starting to drill the foundation into the mountain, but everything is in the first stage.”
Meanwhile, Jorge Jorge, chief executive officer of Toro Verde, commented on the challenges of the project, saying that the biggest one would be bringing the equipment to the top of the mountain. The second would be bringing in the people to do the job, he added.
Explaining how Toro Verde is tackling the workforce issue, Lizano said: “For the technical part, which would involve putting the cables up, we’re bringing people from our staff because it’s an expertise that you need to have, but for the rest of the construction process, we will hire local people.”
Jorge also noted that “99.9%” of the materials will be sourced locally. “The only thing we will bring from elsewhere is the cable, because it will have to be specially made and not a lot of companies around the world produce it. You don’t exactly get orders all the time for the longest cable on the planet.”
The cable that will be used for the project is reportedly being manufactured by a company in Mexico.
Addressing the issue of safety, Lizano said that a team of engineers and architects oversaw the design of the zip line, and that different safety measures and systems are in place.
“We have three brake systems, so if one fails, you have two back-up systems. We’re very safe in that aspect,” Lizano explained. “We are also very strict when it come to our maintenance logs and maintenance procedures. There’s daily maintenance, weekly maintenance, monthly maintenance, and yearly maintenance.
“We also keep track of the lifespan of the equipment, so we can replace them. We not only maintain the infrastructure but also the equipment that we use.”