The UAE, which turned an empty, barren desert into bustling metropolises, and which aims to build a colony on Mars by 2117, has now turned its focus to building railway tracks to connect the entire country.
The grand ambition was unveiled by none other than His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, at Expo 2020 Dubai.
The project, which has been long overdue, is announced at a time when the UAE has set sights on the next 50 years of progress after concluding the Golden Jubilee celebrations in a befitting manner. There is no better way to begin the Next 50 journey than this. This is in line with the mission of relentless progress and transformation that the UAE leaders have undertaken ever since the Union was formed in 1971.
Etihad Rail, which was previously meant for freight movement, is now expanded to include passenger services. Once complete, one can travel from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 50 minutes flat and to Fujairah in 100 minutes. Powered by electricity generated from non-fossil fuel sources, the rail system will take thousands of cars and lorries off the roads.
Apart from de-clogging the congested highways, it is expected to offset carbon emissions in a big way, thereby helping the UAE achieve the avowed objective of becoming carbon-neutral by 2050. Faster movement of goods and people across the length and breadth of the country is key to the integration of economy. It will certainly quicken economic progress and lay strong foundations for a prosperous and self-sustaining economy. By 2030, the new railway system will have come into operation, deepening the economic diversification of the country.
That the UAE leaders dream big and plan big is now the staple of fairy tales. Unending stream of projects and plans is a testimony to the dogged determination of the leaders who would spare no effort to put their nation at the pinnacle of glory.
The UAE has been at the forefront of research and implementation of state-of-the-art transportation systems. Work on a Hyperloop system and flying taxis began here years ago and will fructify in due course, putting the country ahead of many others. The UAE has made a name for itself when it comes to innovation and novel approaches to solving problems. Railways is a traditional system of mobility that has linked and united several bigger countries such as China, India and Europe for more than a century. This system will do a world of good to a smaller country like the UAE too.
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