Shaikh Maktoum and Mattar Al Tayer during the opening ceremony of the four-day UITP conference and exhibition, being held in Dubai for the second time. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The Fourth edition of the region’s biggest transport conference, which was inaugurated on Sunday by Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, reflected the massive shift in transportation that Mena countries have taken over the last few year.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is taking a giant leap towards the adoption of mass transit means as a way of life, an important step towards sustainability that the UITP MENA Congress stands for. UITP or the Union of International Transport is the umbrella body of transport organisations around the world.

The four-day conference and exhibition, being held in Dubai for the second time and organised by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), has played a key role in shaping the sustainable course while Dubai as a pioneer in the sector with initiatives of Dubai Metro and Dubai Tram has inspired the region.

The event, being held at Dubai World Trade Centre, is one of the largest public transport gathering where industry leaders, policy makers, legislators, developers, consultants, operators, and manufacturers are coming together to discuss the future public transport solutions for the region.

With the participation of 1,000 delegates hailing from 25 countries and 66 exhibitors from 16 countries, the event is expected attract 3,000 visitors.

In the opening comments on the event, Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director RTA, said the Congress is fruit of partnership between UITP and RTA.

“The UITP MENA Congress is one of the biggest gatherings in the public transport sector as it brings together CEOs of public transport entities, industry leaders, policy makers, legislators, developers, consultants, operators and manufacturers under one roof to discuss future solutions of issues pertaining to public transport means,” he said.

He added that the congress will play a role in widening and revamping the mass transit sector in the region, while offering a good opportunity to tap into successful experiences of developed countries and the latest technologies adopted in this field.

“The region has witnessed rapid development in the transportation sector over the last few years with projects worth $100 billion (Dh367billion) taking shape,” he informed.

The keynote address was delivered by Jassim Al Sulaiti, Qatar Minister of Transport and Chairman of UITP MENA.

The event will have ministerial delegations from Morocco, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait to share their public transport plans and projects.

The Congress will discuss a host of issues about the growth of public transport sector spread across five plenary sessions, 14 breakout sessions, and four discussion panels featuring the participation of 80 speakers from 25 countries.

The sessions will start from Monday and work papers will be presented on five topics, which includes ‘Corporate Governance and Organisational Structures’ to be delivered by Abdul Mohsin Ibrahim Younes.

The second paper, which will be delivered by Ömer Yildiz, General Manager of Istanbul Transport, will discuss logistics systems. Abdullah Mohammad Al Awar, CEO of Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre will deliver a paper on finance from an Islamic perspective. Michael Lichtenegger, Director of Marketing Committee, UITP, will deliver a paper marketing, whereas Abdul Aziz Al Ohali, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, will deliver a paper about master plans for public transportation projects in the Middle East.

Following the landmark hosting of the 59th UITP World Congress in 2011, held first time outside Europe, UITP signed a strategic 10-year partnership agreement with RTA to host biennial UITP MENA Congresses & Exhibitions in Dubai until 2024.

RTA is also host to UITP’s MENA Centre for Transport Excellence, which is leading efforts to build regional capabilities in the public transport arena through research and development, training as well as knowledge programmes.

Dubai won the rights to host the prestigious congress for 10 years following the city’s quantum shift in public transportation sector that includes the establishment of Dubai Metro, public buses, marine transit modes and taxis.