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Virgin Hyperloop One announced it had raised an additional $50 million (Dh184 million) ahead of its latest round of funding with investment from Dubai-based port operator DP World.

Abu Dhabi: Virgin Hyperloop One could see operations starting by 2025 if all things go well, according to the group’s managing director for the Middle East, Harj Dhaliwal, calling the technology a game changer for the region once it starts running.

“I think we’re looking at 2024-2025 by the time we are in a position where our safety certifications are all signed; that’s very important for us.

“As we go forward, safety is absolutely fundamental in everything we do, and so it’s important we come up with times and dates that are credible,” he added, highlighting how the company was prioritising safety before opening dates. “Nobody should think that Hyperloop One will be delivered to you in a year because it’s not, we have to ensure the safety of the passengers and everybody around it including the people operating it.

“That takes time, it takes time to plan, to construct the infrastructure and to then build it out to test and certify,” he added.

Dhaliwal said the group was currently working with the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) on increasing Dubai’s connectivity. “We’ve been working very closely with the RTA for a number of years now, and what we’re looking to do now is to build on the work we’ve done and take to it forward in terms of how we can connect in Dubai.

“When you consider Dubai, it’s almost 90km long end-to-end, and so we want to be able to connect some of these dense parts of Dubai to key transport hubs,” he added.

“The ability to connect downtown Dubai to the airport, downtown to Al Maktoum Airport and so on, that is something that is ongoing,” he said.

Dhaliwal said the main goal was to have a total transport connection network linking major cities such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi with their Saudi counterparts in Riyadh and Jeddah. “That is the ultimate goal and vision, the ability to have a route that enables you to go from Abu Dhabi to Riyadh in 46 minutes and the ability to go from Riyadh to Jeddah in 48 minutes. The ability to connect the big cities in the GCC will enable these cities to act as one economic region and one economic powerhouse; that will be a big game changer,” he added.

Dhaliwal said the economic benefits would include an entire new industry that would bring with it jobs and a rise in the region’s GDP. “Looking at this not just on a transport level, it will have a big impact on a wider economic platform which will include creating new jobs in advanced technologies and materials, and also creating manufacturing opportunities on a brand new industry that has not established itself yet. This will all certainly raise the GDP of each region and it will also contribute to more economic efficiency for the whole area,” he added.

Dhaliwal said Virgin Hyperloop would also continue to strengthen its relationship with the UAE — With DP World already being its largest investor — by opening an office in Abu Dhabi this year. “We want to open an office in Abu Dhabi so we can work closely with the relevant authorities; to help them understand what we’re doing and for them to understand what our technology means.

“Our goal is to work alongside government authorities to get to a position where we can start working on our vision, which is a connected world,” he added.