Dubai: Etihad Rail, the UAE’s freight and passenger railway, will not only link cities across the country but will also energise the economy and provide sustainable transport for all, its CEO told the Dubai International Project Management Forum (DIPMF) on Wednesday at Expo 2020 Dubai.
Shadi Malak, Etihad Rail CEO, was speaking during a panel discussion on mega projects in the UAE at DIPMF.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, opened the seventh DIPMF that welcomed around 1,500 local and international participants.
Upon his arrival at the Dubai Exhibition Centre at Expo, Sheikh Hamdan was received by Mattar Mohammed Al Tayer, RTA Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors.
Sheikh Hamdan toured the event hall and, during the opening session, watched a presentation that highlighted the growth trajectory of Dubai and how it has turned into a prominent global finance and business hub.
DIPMF is organised by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in cooperation with Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA), DP World, and Project Management Institute (PMI), under the theme ‘Towards the Future’.
The opening session was attended by a host of dignitaries and top officials of government departments and private entities as well as top international experts and specialists in project management.
Al Tayer said: “Project management is an effective tool in managing and streamlining operations in public and private entities. The rapid technological advancements have changed the principles of project management, business and the economy. DIPMF has demonstrated how smart, sustainable and innovative practices can be applied in project management to optimise the results achieved. Over the years, the Forum has cemented its position as a global platform for showcasing best practices and innovative solutions in project management.”
Dr Pippa Malmgren, technology entrepreneur and former advisor to former US president George Bush, praised the development witnessed in the UAE over the last 50 years. She said: “Some very extraordinary things are happening in the world today. The seemingly impossible is possible in the UAE.”
Connecting the country
Among UAE’s mega projects showcased at the DIPMF was Etihad Rail. CEO Shadi Malak said: “Etihad Rail is one of the largest projects in the UAE, connecting industrial, free zones and ports to form a single economic network that serves the interests of the nation.”
He added Etihad Rail will also boost the country’s tourism sector as it will connect town centres – from As-Sila, a city in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, with tourist spots in the northern emirates.
Being energy-efficient, Etihad Rail will likewise contribute to the net-zero emission agenda of the UAE, said Malak, adding: “Once operational, Etihad Rail can accommodate up to 450 people and this means removing around 200 cars on the roads for people who will go on long trips.
“Railways are the most efficient mode of transport in the world. Etihad Rail will be integrated with the existing metro and tram networks and we also have plans for tramways as well as other first- and last-mile solutions in other emirates,” he underlined.
Another mega project by the UAE is in the energy sector and transition to green economy.
Saeed Al Tayer, DEWA managing director and CEO, said: “Green hydrogen is the future and it will accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
He added that the UAE is using “cutting-edge technology to harness solar energy capabilities” and the country has the largest single-site solar plant in the world. He also cited the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park as a milestone in the country’s successful journey to shape a more sustainable future.
Saeed Al Tayer also emphasised that green hydrogen represents one of the pillars of a sustainable future that depends on accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality to support a green economy.
At the same panel discussion, Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, noted the UAE is one of the pioneering countries in clean energy. He added: “The UAE is the first country in the region to promise zero carbon emissions by 2050, with having sustainable smart buildings as part of that pledge.”
Meanwhile, Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, paid tribute “to the giant strategic projects implemented by the RTA”, the latest of which was the iconic architectural project, the Infinity Bridge.
“It [Infinity Bridge] symbolises infinity in achievements and successes of our beloved country in general and Dubai in particular. The emirate has become a global destination and melting point that brings together tens of nationalities from all nations in different languages, ethnicities, religions and orientations. They all live in an atmosphere of security, safety, justice, equality and love as a microcosm that expresses all the nations on the planet,” she said during her keynote speech.
In an interview with Gulf News, Moaza Al Marri, executive director at Office of RTA Director-General and Chairman of the Board of Executive Directors and chairperson of the Higher Organising Committee of DIPMF, said Dubai’s agility in delivering mega projects despite the COVID-19 pandemic has been demonstrated to the world.
Al Marri said Expo 2020 Dubai, Route 2020 (Dubai Metro extension), and the latest project, Infinity Bridge, were delivered “while the entire world was affected by the pandemic”.
She added: “Many lessons were learned during the pandemic and these were discussed at DIPMF as we gathered key figures and managers of projects in both the public and private sectors locally and abroad.”