Middle East megaprojects usher in a new era of public transport

The car-rich Middle East is set to welcome a public transport revolution as governments pledge billions of dollars in post-pandemic funding, a leading expert has claimed.

Khalid Alhogail, President of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) said The National there is a thirst for a top-notch public transport service in the Mena countries.

Population surges in cities, heavy traffic congestion and public demand for more sustainable transport options are the main reasons for massive investments in the sector.

The Mena region was not known for its public transport options, but that will change

Khalid Alhogail, President of the International Association of Public Transport

Another key driver of the burgeoning interest in public transport is the private car sector which is losing its luster as fuel prices continue to rise.

“Right now, about $100 billion is being invested in public transport projects in the Mena region,” said Alhogail, who was at the UITP regional congress, which is taking place Monday at the World Trade Center in Dubai.

The pandemic has seen a large number of people working from home.

While many have already returned to the office, and many more are expected to follow, Mr Alhogail believes people will no longer accept being stuck in heavy traffic for long periods at peak times.

This, coupled with expected population increases in cities across the region, makes this an ideal time for countries in the region to invest in public transport networks, he said.

“People are realizing that they can save time if they opt for rapid public transport rather than getting stuck in traffic jams,” said Mr Alhogail, who is also the managing director of Saudi Arabia Public Transport. Company.

“This is what will convince them to switch from private transport to public transport.

“Until now, the Mena region has not been recognized for its public transport options, but that will change.”

Driving your own private car was no longer seen as the attractive option it once might have been, Mr Alhogail said.

“Regulations in the region are changing to make it more attractive to use public transport,” he said.

“It’s no longer about having cheap fuel, toll-free roads and not having to pay for parking.

” It changes. In fact, this is changing all over the world, not just in this region.

He cited a number of programs in the Mena region as flagship projects for public transport.

Bahrain metro work progresses

The Dubai Metro line was recently extended to integrate with the Expo 2020 site.

Etihad Rail has also announced that it will soon carry passengers across the emirates, eventually connecting with other countries in the region.

The emirate has also launched an urban master plan to divide the city into five key zones, making it a world leader in sustainable transport options.

A 76-kilometre metro line became operational in Doha in 2019, planned to welcome visitors to the Qatari capital ahead of the FIFA World Cup later this year.

The first two tram lines in Casablanca, Morocco began carrying passengers in 2019, with two more lines expected to enter service later this year.

Bahrain is also moving forward with its own metro system, which will see all major population centers connected on a 110 km track.

The country recently announced the signing of a deal that would see 200 of its cities linked by a new bus service on 76 routes.

The desire to see transport become more sustainable has also created opportunities for the region to move forward, said another speaker at the UITP congress.

“New cities are being built from scratch in the region and they are being built with a clear strategy to be energy affordable and environmentally friendly,” said Rumaih Al Rumaih, chairman of the Saudi Public Transport Authority. saudi.

“Neom City and the Red Sea Project have clear strategies to ensure the technology they adopt is sustainable.”

Both projects are seen as key parts of Saudi Vision 2030, which aims to help the country diversify its oil-based economy.

Neom is a $500 billion megaproject that will house cities, towns, ports and tourist hotspots.

The Red Sea project is currently under construction on more than 90 islands on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.

Etihad Rail – in pictures

Updated: February 8, 2022, 4:25 a.m.

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