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T for Transport: A nation builds sustainable solutions

As part of our A to Z of the UAE, we explore the country's journey from limited transport facilities to a world of automated mobility

  • The sun-powered Solar Impulse 2 seen over the Grand Mosque Image Credit: EPA
  • An electric car charging station in Al Qasba this year, part of Sharjah’s green parking initiativesImage Credit: EPA
  • Dubai Metro’s Maryam Al Saffar, the firstEmirati train attendant, in 2011Image Credit: Gulf News Archives
  • Dubai airport has cut monthly carbon emissions by 447 tonnes with better traffic managementImage Credit: Gulf News Archives
  • An Etihad Rail train in Abu Dhabi. The Dh40-billion network will cut carbon emissions by 2.2 m tonnes a yearImage Credit: EPA
  • The first Hyperloop One being assembled in Nevada. By 2020, it could cut a Dubai-Abu Dhabi trip to 12 minutesImage Credit: EPA
GN Focus

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.