More marine lines, boats, stations as Dubai’s Sheikh Hamdan approves plan to expand water network

Dubai Crown Prince meets first Emirati female captain of a mass marine transport vehicle


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Published: Sun 10 Sep 2023, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Sun 10 Sep 2023, 10:40 PM

The Dubai Crown Prince has approved a new plan to develop the Emirate’s maritime transport network and expand it by 188 per cent. The aim is to serve 22 million passengers by 2030.

The Dubai Marine Transport Master Plan 2030 will see a 400 per cent increase in passenger lines, in addition to 3D-printing the world's first electric abra — a traditional boat made of wood.

Designed to carry 20 passengers, the 3D-printed boat merges the modern with the traditional. The initiative slashes manufacturing time by 90 per cent and cost by 30 per cent.

During his visit to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was told that the plan targets a 51 per cent increase in the number of marine transport users — from 14.7 million to 22.2 million.

The total length of the marine transport network will go up from 55km to 158km. Marine transport stations will go up from 48 to 79 along the Dubai Creek, Dubai Water Canal, the coastline of the Arabian Gulf and various waterfronts. The plan also includes increasing passenger transport lines from seven to 35, besides expanding the marine transport fleet by 32 per cent — from 196 to 258.

First female Emirati captain

During his visit, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed met Hanadi Al Doseri, the first Emirati female captain of a mass marine transport vehicle.

She recounted her journey towards securing the qualifications needed to pilot sub-200 tonne ships on coastal voyages.

Al Doseri’s qualifications include five safety training certificates compliant with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). In addition, she has successfully completed three months of maritime service and received two more specialised training certificates. She is also licensed to pilot marine craft in the 12- and 24-metre categories.

To enhance her practical skills, she underwent a comprehensive five-month training programme aboard the Dubai Ferry. Subject to a successful candidate evaluation in December, Al Doseri is on track to secure a licence for piloting sub-200-tonne ships on coastal journeys.

Autonomous abra

“I have closely followed the successful trial run of the autonomous abra,” Sheikh Hamdan posted on platform X, formerly called Twitter.

He was referring to the RTA trialling a driverless abra in May this year. During the trial run, the abra operated autonomously without the need for a captain between Al Jaddaf and Dubai Festival City, adhering to the route with 100 per cent accuracy.

“The autonomous electric abra was crafted locally. In its design and production, emphasis was placed on retaining the abra's heritage identity. The abra boasts a host of advanced features highlighted by zero carbon emissions, operating and maintenance cost savings of 30 per cent and the elimination of noise compared to diesel-powered abras. Equipped with two electric motors, it is capable of achieving a maximum speed of seven knots. It is fitted with an autonomous control system and four lithium batteries that ensure an operating time of seven hours,” explained Mattar Al Tayer, director-general and chairman of the Board of Executive Directors of the RTA.

Maintenance centre

Sheikh Hamdan reviewed the operational metrics and performance of the Al Garhoud RTA Marine Maintenance Centre (for abras, ferries, and water taxis). The biggest marine maintenance facility in the region, it spans 5,000 square metres, comprising five workshops, a 250-metre pier, a dock capable of accommodating boats up to 32 metres in length, a boat crane with a lifting capacity of up to 100 tonnes, three storage areas, zones designated for marine and external tasks, administrative spaces and an employee rest zone.

The workshop can accommodate 16 boats at a time. Since its inauguration in 2018, it has aided 57 RTA marine transport craft to operate at peak efficiency. It has slashed maintenance costs by about 50 per cent.


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