UAE transportation: A triumphant future
Published on November 18, 2014
November 11, 2014, is opening day for Dubai’s latest transportation project: The Dubai Tram. This is not the project in its entirety, but rather the first phase of something much bigger. Phases II and III are on schedule and will be completed in time for Expo 2020. This project, however is just the tip of the iceberg, as the nation is gearing up for several major transportation projects in the coming years.
Dubai is also welcoming a new development in aviation, with the opening and eventual completion of Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC). The total build-out of the complex is scheduled for completion in 2027, with limited passenger and cargo operations already underway. Once completed, it will be among the largest in the world. In terms of passenger traffic, DWC is expected to handle between 160 and 260 million passengers per year.
In addition to Dubai’s latest ventures, Abu Dhabi is experiencing a boom in transportation. Construction of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s (AUH) Midfield Terminal project is moving quickly, and completion is imminent in the next few years. Once finished, the terminal will serve as a major hub for the region, hosting Etihad Airways as its premier carrier. It will be a transit location for millions with connecting flights and will give local passengers access to hundreds of destinations throughout the Middle East, Europe, Oceania, Asia and the Americas.
It’s not just aviation that Abu Dhabi has to look forward to. The inaugural phase of Abu Dhabi’s Metro project is slated for completion in 2018 and includes two light rail lines connecting the city’s busiest districts. In 2020, the capital aspires to open another phase of the project: A heavy rail metro line connecting the light rail lines to areas outside of the city, including AUH and Yas Island.
Dubai’s highly regarded Metro system is also anticipating new developments. As the city gears up for Expo 2020, the Metro’s red line is expanding to serve the expected 25 million visitors to the event. This extension is expected to open in 2019, ahead of schedule for Expo. Also in the works is a 20.6km extension of the green line to serve the communities of Dubai Festival City, Ras Al Khor, Dubai International City, Silicon Oasis and Dubai Academic City. The extension plans will bring the total number of metro stations up to 70 by 2020.
The popularity of rail transportation is growing significantly in the region, with plans for a rail network across the entire GCC. The planned railway will cover more than 1,940km, with a total cost estimated at $19 billion (Dh70 billion). This staggering price tag will be shared by each member state of the council (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait) proportionate to the amount of rail line in each country. Diesel-powered trains will travel across the borders of the GCC at speeds of over 200km/hour, boosting trade and easing travel congestion between member states. Operations are expected to begin in 2017.