A Metro station on Route 2020, leading to the Expo 2020 venue, under construction at Discovery Gardens in Dubai. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: The names of Dubai Metro stations on the under-construction Route 2020 are up for grabs, as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) is all set to open the sale process for naming rights.

Corporate firms, commercial brands and private or public agencies can get their names on seven stations that are currently under construction as part of the 15km extension of Dubai Metro.

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“RTA will sell the naming rights for Route 2020, the details of which will be made available in due course,” Abdul Mohsin Ebrahim Younus, CEO of RTA’s Rail Agency, told Gulf News.

Steel structure of a Dubai Metro station on Route 2020, the 15-km extension of Dubai Metro's Red Line to the Dubai Expo 2020 site under construction on 03 Sep. 2018.  Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

The sale of naming rights for Dubai Metro stations is a major source of income for the RTA, with the project generating a revenue of Dh2 billion over the past decade.

“The Dubai Metro Naming Rights Project is a first-in-the-world revenue model for public transport infrastructure, created in 2008. Naming rights increase brand awareness for national and international companies and reinforce their positioning in Dubai,” said Younus.

According to the RTA, station names are neither allotted through a bidding process nor any sponsorship model.

“The naming rights do not follow a bidding process. It goes beyond traditional sponsorship and branding to a deeper level of holistic brand/business integration and partnership,” Younus added. The process follows certain criteria in keeping with the RTA’s standards and vision. For instance, the stations cannot be named after any family or person, even if a brand is eponymous with a family name. “Only brand and company names are allowed, particularly those that have presence in the UAE, are financially stable and committed to Dubai,” Younus informed.

The brands also need to have an image that respects the UAE’s values and culture, besides having a well-defined corporate social responsibility policy in place. More importantly, any firm willing to attach its name to a station ought to have the necessary financial soundness to pay for the rights. The prices of naming rights vary depending upon the location and popularity of the stations.

Among the first stations to be named after commercial brands or business establishments were Mall of the Emirates, Palm Deira, Deira City Centre, GGICO, Sharaf DG, Emirates and First Abu Dhabi Bank.

The DMCC station on the Red Line — which was previously known as Jumeirah Lakes Towers — is the most recent one to have acquired a corporate identity through sale of naming rights, while UAE Exchange and Danube stations were renamed earlier.

An under-construction station on the Route 2020 of the Dubai Metro . Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Younus clarified that naming rights for the new stations are based on the same criteria that applied to those renamed previously.

Work on schedule

Route 2020 branches out from the Red Line of Dubai Metro at Nakheel Harbour and Tower station, which is currently being redeveloped to serve as a transfer station between the two lines.

The new route will be served by six more stations and out of the seven stations on the new route, five will be elevated while two will be underground, culminating at the Expo station.

Currently, the architectural, constructional and electromechanical designs are being developed for all the stations, with almost 50 per cent of the work already completed.

The RTA completed tunnelling work recently, helping step up the construction on the 3.2km underground section of the new line, while the 11.8km elevated section of the route has also seen significant progress.

Route 2020 will pass through several densely populated localities and industrial zones on its way to the Expo 2020 site, including Discovery Gardens, The Gardens, Dubai Investment Park, Al Furjan and Jumeirah Golf Estates, supporting about 240,000 people.

All rail work for Route 2020 is expected to be completed by next July and test runs are scheduled to begin in February 2020. Route 2020 is set to begin commercial operations on May 20, 2020 — five months before the inauguration of Expo 2020.

— S.S.