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Virgin Hyperloop One eyes Saudi Arabia test track under KAEC deal

Dubai's DP World-backed firm has signed an agreement that covers an R&D centre and a hyperloop manufacturing plant

Virgin Hyperloop One will build a test track in Saudi Arabia.
Virgin Hyperloop One / Archives
Virgin Hyperloop One will build a test track in Saudi Arabia.

California-based Virgin Hyperloop One, a company backed by Dubai's DP World, plans to build the world’s longest test and certification track for ultra-high speed transport hyperloop technology in Saudi Arabia through an agreement with the kingdom’s Economic City Authority (ECA), with its initial study to focus on King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), located 100km north of the Red Sea Port of Jeddah.

A research and development centre and a hyperloop manufacturing facility were also included in the latest announcement, which took place at Virgin Hyperloop One’s Los Angeles headquarters during a visit from a senior ECA delegation, led by secretary general, Mohanud A Helal.

In a statement, Virgin Hyperloop One added that the project, which would include a 35km test and certification track, would create opportunities to develop “specific hyperloop technologies” and local Saudi expertise that can commercialised and scaled.

The study will also facilitate "the development of localised hyperloop supply chains and the acceleration of innovation clusters across the kingdom”, the company added.

Commenting on the agreement, Helal said: “Having hyperloop at KAEC is going to act as a catalyst for a Saudi Silicon Valley effect and galvanise our software development, high technology research, and manufacturing industries.

“As we continue to help deliver the strategic pillars of Vision 2030, technology transfer and high-tech job creation opportunities that this relationship will bring are fundamental to our progress as a nation and our efforts to create opportunities for our bright young people.”

The GCC is largely ahead of the pack globally when it comes to commercialising hyperloop technology, which uses electromagnetic propulsion to accelerate pods through a low-pressure tube.

Virgin Hyperloop One’s latest news comes two months after Harj Dhaliwal, the group’s Middle East and India chief, told Construction Week that the group had floated a proposal with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry for an unspecified route in the kingdom.

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Construction Week - Issue 749
Sep 15, 2019