In the early years of the federation, travelling between different villages within an emirate was largely in 4x4s, those new ships of the desert. Air connections to the UAE were infrequent, migrant workers still arrived by boat, and buses took pilgrims from Sharjah to the haj in Makkah. Even in 1946 — still in living memory — the explorer Wilfred Thesiger was taking caravans across the Empty Quarter.
To say it’s been a long journey from then to the present era of computerised, driverless mass rapid transport, would be an understatement.
The UAE already offers some of the finest aviation and transport experiences (think Emirates and Etihad airlines), and forward-looking strategies will ensure that tomorrow’s people carriers — whether on roads, over water or in the skies — will be sustainable, service-oriented and integrated with each other. We look at just how far we’ve come.