UAE: What you need to know about Etihad Rail’s luxury train

Italian hospitality firm Arsenale will develop train with distinct Emirati culture and heritage that will take passengers on a scenic journey across the UAE

by

Angel Tesorero

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Published: Fri 19 May 2023, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 20 May 2023, 12:24 AM

Some details have been shared about Etihad Rail’s plan to rollout a luxury train with distinct Emirati culture and heritage that will take passengers on a scenic journey across the UAE.

The developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network signed this week an agreement with Italian luxury hospitality company Arsenale to develop the luxury train experience that will operate within the UAE, and extend to the wide GCC region, once the GCC Railway is operational.


Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, said: "Our collaboration with Arsenale is a testament to Etihad Rail's commitment to drive economic and social growth in the UAE through the National Rail Network.

"By establishing a luxury train experience, we are introducing a unique world-class offering to the region and contributing to boosting the tourism sector in the UAE. Furthermore, we will be able to showcase the country's diverse heritage and beauty to visitors from around the world," he underlined.


The announcement was met with great excitement by everyone, with strong anticipation that this will usher in a golden age of railway travel across the country and beyond.

Here are the details that we know so far:

What is the route?

The luxury train will travel throughout the UAE towards the border with Oman, passing through the cosmopolitan cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to the nature destinations of Fujairah, with its magnificent mountains right on the border with Oman, and along Liwa Desert and its famous oasis, near Mezeiraa train station.

It will extend to the wider GCC, once the GCC Railway is operational.

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When is the rollout of the luxury train?

No date has been announced yet. But following the signing of the agreement on Tuesday, Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale S.p.A. said: “We are ready to work tirelessly to enable travellers to soon come on board our train to discover the enchanting natural wonders of the UAE.”

Who is Etihad Rail partnering with?

Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.
Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.

Arsenale is an Italian company which operates in the luxury hospitality market. It has two main divisions: Hospitality Hotels & Resorts and Luxury Train Cruising. The former develops and manages hospitality structures through partnerships with global luxury brands such as Soho House and Orient Express. The division’s pipeline plans strategic operations in Rome, Cortina, Tuscany, and Southern Italy. The latter takes care of the Orient Express La Dolce Vita. Born out of the collaboration between Arsenale S.p.A., Accor, Trenitalia-Gruppo Ferrovie dello Stato and Fondazione FS, it is the first sustainable railway tourism project that offers luxury accommodations.

Etihad Rail’s luxury train will be Arsenale’s second international luxury train project, following the recent announcement of The Dream of the Desert project in Saudi Arabia.

How many carriages will there be?

Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.
Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.

The locomotive will consist of 15 luxury carriages and passengers will experience Emirati culture and heritage throughput the scenic journey.

Arsenale said: "The UAE will be among the first countries in the world to have a luxury cruise service with a fully customised train."

Where are the carriages being crafted?

Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.
Luxury design renderings by Arsenale for Orient Express.

The carriages will be completely refurbished in specialised factories located in Puglia and Sicily, south of Italy. The production, craftsmanship, quality of onboard services, interior design and know-how will be Italian, Arsenale noted.

What’s the purpose of rolling out the luxury train?

"The railway cruise is the present and the future of tourism,” noted Arsenale, adding: “We want to introduce this new fascinating and sustainable way of travelling… There are no limits to passion and no barriers that can stop the desire to go beyond the imaginary.

“Furthermore, we want to be able to showcase the country’s diverse heritage and beauty to visitors from around the world.”

angel@khaleejtimes.com


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