Dubai has been selected to host a top international event for the public transport industry in 2026, it was announced on Wednesday.
It will be the emirate's second time to host the prestigious UITP Global Public Transport Summit — following the successful 59th UITP World Congress and Exhibition which was held in the city in 2011.
The announcement was made by the International Association for Public Transport (UITP) at this year’s summit held in Barcelona, Spain.
A premier global event on the public transport industry’s calendar, the UITP Global Public Transport Summit is expected to see the participation of over 1,900 delegates from 100 countries and more than 15,000 attendees.
Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), and Mohamed Mezghani, secretary-general of the UITP, signed the hosting of the summit agreement at the RTA’s stand in the UITP Exhibition.
Dubai's selection as a the host city for the summit can be attributed to the visionary leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Al Tayer said.
“Dubai's successful bid to host this prestigious global event is in perfect alignment with the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, which strives to position Dubai among the top three cities worldwide. It underscores Dubai's global leadership as a preferred destination for international events and highlights the international community's confidence in Dubai's outstanding global reputation. The selection also exemplifies Dubai's proven capability to host successful international events, showcasing the excellence and efficiency of its public transport infrastructure,” Al Tayer said.
Al Tayer thanked the UITP presidency for selecting Dubai as the host city for the event.
“We are proud of our long-standing relationship with the UITP, which began with the establishment of RTA in 2005, and reached a milestone when Dubai successfully hosted the UITP World Congress and Exhibition in 2011, marking its debut in the Mena region. The collaboration was further strengthened with the establishment of the MENA Centre for Transport Excellence, and the hosting of four editions of the UITP MENA Congress and Exhibition in Dubai, which is slated to renew its hosting of the event for the fifth time in 2024,” he added.
Looking back on the emirate's public transport milestones, Al Tayer noted that, under the Dubai government's directives, "the RTA has successfully completed numerous large-scale projects with a combined value exceeding Dh146 billion".
"These projects include the Dubai Metro, the world's longest driverless metro system spanning 89.3 km; the 11 km Dubai Tram; a modern fleet of over 1,400 public buses complying with the European low carbon emission (Euro 6) standards; and an extensive marine transport system encompassing traditional abras, Dubai Ferry and water taxis,” he said.
“Dubai has an extensive network of roads and bridges to facilitate quick travel for all modes of transportation to their destinations. The road network has expanded significantly from 8,715 lane-kilometres in 2006 to 18,765 lane-kilometres in 2022. Similarly, the cycling tracks network has expanded from a mere 9 km in 2006 to an impressive 543 km in 2022,” he added.
RTA’s efforts to develop an integrated, sustainable transportation network have been pivotal in cementing Dubai's position as one of the world's leading urban economies. These measures have improved environmental sustainability and encouraged people to use a variety of mass transit modes including the metro, tram, public buses, marine transport, taxis, and shared mobility means. As a result, the proportion of mass and shared mobility means increased significantly from 6 per cent in 2006 to 19.4% in 2022, Al Tayer stated.
Sharing figures, he said that the usage of public and shared transportation in Dubai witnessed remarkable growth, with over 621 million riders recorded in 2022, reflecting a 35% increase compared to the previous year's figure of approximately 461 million riders. Among the various modes of transportation, the Dubai Metro constituted 36% of public transport ridership, closely followed by public buses at 25%. Notably, the Dubai Metro has served over two billion riders since its inception in 2009 until last March.
RTA has taken a pioneering step in the Middle East by adopting the Zero-Emissions Public Transportation in Dubai Strategy 2050, becoming the first entity in the region to establish a comprehensive long-term plan for achieving net-zero emissions in public transportation by 2050.
This visionary strategy is designed to combat climate change and minimise carbon emissions across all operations. As part of the plan, RTA aims to transition all public buses to electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles by 2050, while ensuring that taxis and limousines are fully electric and hydrogen-powered by 2040, setting a new benchmark for sustainable transportation in the region.
Mohamed Mezghani, secretary-general of the UITP, said: “When the UITP Global Public Transport Summit arrives in Dubai in 2026, it will be exactly fifteen years since the Summit was last hosted there in 2011. Even back then, the city was very well advanced in terms of urban mobility. Since then, public transport has developed at a truly impressive rate thanks to the strong focus and commitment of RTA. With the changes to our global events strategy, Dubai will become the first city outside of Europe to host the new UITP Annual Summit. I'm excited to see what outstanding urban mobility options the delegates will experience upon their arrival.”
Dubai's mass transit system serves as the backbone for efficient movement across the emirate, with integrated components that have transformed attitudes towards public transport. RTA's strategic and executive plans prioritise integration to ensure seamless traffic flow and mobility.
This comprehensive network encompasses road network expansion, crossings, and various mass transit systems including the metro, tram, buses, marine transport, first and last-mile solutions and shared transport. Pedestrian and cycling infrastructure is also prioritised, alongside the implementation of cutting-edge traffic and transport technologies to optimise road and transit efficiency. Supportive policies encourage the public to reduce reliance on private vehicles and embrace alternative modes such as mass and shared mobility options.
Dubai's mass transit system has undergone remarkable advancements, thanks to the substantial investments made by the Dubai Government in developing a sophisticated and diverse public transportation infrastructure. At the heart of these transformative projects is the Dubai Metro, hailed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum as the “The Project of the Century, and a unique landmark of Dubai and the UAE”.
Serving as a vital cornerstone of the transportation network, the Dubai Metro seamlessly connects key districts of the emirate, offering commuters a reliable and secure transit experience. With its Red and Green lines spanning an impressive 89.3 km and encompassing 53 stations, the Dubai Metro retains its distinction as the world's longest driverless metro system. The fleet of 129 trains ensures efficient operations and convenient access for passengers. Moreover, the amenities and services provided at Dubai Metro stations rank among the finest globally.
Having surpassed the milestone of carrying over two billion passengers since its inauguration in September 2009 until March of this year, the Dubai Metro stands as a testament to its exceptional safety standards and operational efficiency, boasting an impressive punctuality rating of 99.7%. The Metro has played a pivotal role in enhancing Dubai's competitiveness in hosting major international events, most notably the successful Expo 2020 Dubai. Additionally, it has contributed to the emirate's economic growth, stimulated tourism activities, and increased property values by approximately 12% in areas adjacent to metro stations.
RTA operates an extensive fleet of over 1,400 public buses in Dubai, meeting the European Euro 6 standards for low carbon emissions. These buses play a crucial role in facilitating the mobility of both residents and visitors throughout the city. Designed with passenger comfort and convenience in mind, the buses feature comfortable seating and low entrances, ensuring easy boarding and alighting. Moreover, they are equipped with designated spaces to cater to the needs of people of determination, ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all mass transit users.
Covering a vast network of routes, RTA buses operate on more than 175 routes within Dubai as well as intercity routes connecting the emirate to vital districts in other emirates. With a staggering 2,599 stops and stations, the bus network provides extensive coverage across the city, making it convenient for passengers to reach their desired destinations. In 2022 alone, these buses made over four million trips, serving an impressive 157 million riders.
RTA has recently unveiled a new generation of bus stations that combine unique, innovative and effective architectural solutions with a contemporary system for providing mass transportation services. These designs fit the needs and standards of integrated transportation, and the interconnection between multiple districts, simplifying people’s movements to and from public transport stations.
The facilities guarantee pedestrian and cycling accessibility, while also providing an inclusive atmosphere for people of determination. They also increase connectivity between different transit modes and development projects, as well as nearby attractions. Solutions include developing first and last-mile components, as well as integrating aspects such as bus stops, cycling tracks, pedestrian crossings, area-specific landscaping, and bicycle racks. These solutions are intended to encourage people to walk and use individual mobility means.
Maritime transportation is a crucial component of Dubai's transportation system, with users reaching around 16 million passengers in 2022. Marine transport has a fleet of more than 200 vehicles including modern and traditional abras, water taxis and ferries, operating on 24 lines and serving 54 stations. The number of marine transport users is projected to rise considerably in the foreseeable future with the completion of urban and tourist developments along both sides of the Dubai Water Canal, and waterfront development projects. Marine transport is likely to become the preferred mode of transport for many residents, citizens, and tourists who wish to enjoy the scenic views of the tourist and urban infrastructure lining Dubai Creek, Dubai Water Canal, and the Arabian Gulf coast.
RTA is actively implementing the Smart Self-Driving Transport Strategy, which aims to revolutionise 25% of total mobility journeys in the city by incorporating self-driving technology by 2030. This strategic plan is a crucial step towards establishing smart and accessible transportation as a key component of Dubai's smart city vision.
In line with this strategy, RTA has successfully completed the initial phase of creating digital maps for the operation of Cruise's Origin autonomous vehicles (AV). This milestone sets the stage for the launch of Cruise's AV in Dubai in 2023, making Dubai the first city outside the United States to commercially operate Cruise's AV technology. Initially, these vehicles will be deployed to offer taxi and e-hail ride services, providing residents and visitors with a glimpse into the future of transportation. As the initiative progresses, the fleet of self-driving vehicles is expected to grow to 4,000 by the year 2030.
As part of Dubai Government's commitment to environmental sustainability, the RTA introduced the Public Transport Day initiative in 2010. This annual event aims to encourage both residents and visitors to embrace and advocate for the use of Dubai's modern mass transit options, thereby increasing ridership and reducing reliance on private vehicles. The event also highlights Dubai’s and RTA’s leadership in harnessing public transportation, besides educating the public on numerous physical and psychological benefits of hassle-free movement.
The World Public Transport Summit serves as the premier international forum for public transportation experts and specialists to convene. This influential platform showcases the latest advancements in railway infrastructure, tunnel construction, train interiors, entertainment systems, public buses, and marine transport.
At the summit, industry professionals come together to explore cutting-edge technologies, discuss policy developments, share industrial innovations, devise financial strategies, and learn from successful global practices. The diverse perspectives and experiences of participants contribute to an enriching exchange of knowledge. Furthermore, the accompanying exhibition provides an opportunity for participants from around the world to showcase their products, services, and solutions.
The successful staging of the 59th UITP World Congress and Exhibition in 2011 by RTA marked a milestone as the first such event in the MENA region. The accompanying exhibition, spanning around 30,000 square meters, saw a 12% increase in exhibitors, while over 10,000 visitors attended. The event also witnessed the announcement of the winners of the inaugural UITP PTx2 Challenge.
This congress strengthened the partnership between RTA and UITP, leading to the establishment of the MENA Centre for Transport Excellence and the agreement to host the UITP MENA Transport Congress in Dubai every two years for a decade. The fifth edition is set to take place in 2024, further enhancing Dubai's commitment to advancing public transportation and reinforcing its position as a knowledge hub in the region.
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