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The history of Dubai Metro can help engineer mobility of the future

The UAE's future projects may be more tech-driven than ever before, but engineering know-how is unlikely to go out of style

Dubai Metro was launched on 9 September 2009.
Shutterstock
Dubai Metro was launched on 9 September 2009.

Last week saw the UAE celebrate the 10th anniversary of Dubai Metro, a Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) project that was inaugurated on 9 September 2009. On 8 September 2019, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, posted pictures and videos of the days leading to Dubai Metro’s launch, with the shared footage including visuals of the metro’s construction stages as well.

In a series of Arabic-language tweets, Sheikh Mohammed said the punctuality of Dubai Metro’s 2.5 million trips was 99.7%, adding that the network – which has transported 1.5 billion riders in 10 years – was a strong case study in project success from which the rest of the UAE’s and Arab World’s institutions were learning.

Neha Bhatia is the editor of Construction Week.

The Dubai Ruler said that the “new vision for the future of mobility in Dubai” was based on three principles, including the use of technology, the preservation of the environment, and the establishment of long-term partnerships.

Indeed, the future of mobility looks bright in Dubai, where plans are already in place to develop next-generation transport networks, such as hyperloop and sky pod systems. Being developed by RTA and Skyway Greentech Co, Dubai's Sky Pods transit system will feature tracks spanning 15km.

For all their digital savviness, the flying taxis and super-fast rail tracks of the future will still require the same engineering know-how that has gone into digging the tunnels and building the bridges we currently use.

The project will link Dubai International Financial Centre and Downtown Dubai with Business Bay, and will have 21 stations with the capacity to transport 8,400 riders per hour, RTA revealed in April 2019. This August, German firm PTV Group revealed it was working with RTA to implement self-driving car and air taxi networks in Dubai.

Hyperloop networks are also gaining traction in Dubai. Government-backed logistics operator DP World is already a majority stakeholder in Virgin Hyperloop One, the US firm that is also eyeing hyperloop projects in Saudi Arabia and India. Dubai will also feature hyperloop systems through Pavilion USA 2020, the American pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, for which a partnership is in place with Virgin Hyperloop One.

These developments are undoubtedly more technology-driven than the average construction project that UAE contractors may be familiar with. However, our industry cannot afford to be on the side-lines as futuristic mobility becomes the norm in the UAE.

For all their digital savviness, the flying taxis and super-fast rail tracks of the future will still require the same engineering know-how that has gone into digging the tunnels and building the bridges we currently use. Last week’s celebrations around anniversary highlighted the city’s rapid evolution in the relatively short period of time since Dubai Metro’s launch – we must remember this as we build the future.

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Construction Week - Issue 753
Nov 09, 2019