UAE : Dubai Metro Launches Tonight

Dubai Metro launches tonight

Trains undergo last-minute testing outside the Nakheel Metro staton in the run-up to today's launch. Randi Sokoloff / The National

Dubai, Sep ( (The National): After suffering through four years of disruption and dislocation caused by rail construction, Dubai’s residents today finally get to welcome the Metro, which many hope will make the city far more user-friendly.

Launch formalities begin at 7.45 tonight, when VIPs gather in the Galleria of the Mall of the Emirates before boarding the first train and the Metro’s Red Line is declared open by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) also has high expectations. Speaking on Dubai TV last night, Mattar al Tayer, the board chairman and executive director of the RTA, said the authority expects the Metro to break even within seven years.

The RTA also expects a payoff from the Metro in better traffic conditions. Congestion costs the Dubai economy Dh5.2bn (US$1.4 bn) per year because of lost time and accidents, Mr al Tayer said, noting that Dubai today has nearly three times the number of registered vehicles as it had when the Metro project began in 2005.

Yesterday, as people began to absorb the idea that the end of the project really was in sight, some began to make plans to let the train take the strain out of their daily journeys.

“It will be great, believe me,” said Abdul Sabbah, 32, a Jordanian who commutes by car to work in Media City from his home next to Khalid bin Al Waleed Station (formerly called the Burjuman Station) in Bur Dubai. “I’ll take it from my home in Bur Dubai to work. Why not? I can’t find parking anywhere anymore.”

Mr Sabbah even hoped to take his wife and 11-month-old son for a ride this evening, after the family had broken their daily Ramadan fast. But he might find that plan frustrated; confusion over when the Metro would open to the public remained up until the last minute.

A few hundred lucky winners among the 10,000 who applied to the RTA for Golden Tickets will ride the first train tonight, but it is unclear whether everyone else will have to wait until the Metro opens its doors at 5.30 tomorrow morning.

Nevertheless, Dubai was infused with mounting excitement yesterday as the authorities geared up for tonight’s launch, tying up countless loose ends. And the tracks were busy with the already familiar blue trains making test runs.

“I’m hoping everybody will use it,” said Ali Abdulaziz, a 32-year-old Emirati who works in the federal Government.

“As you can see, everything in Dubai is becoming expensive; I pay for petrol for my car, then Salik [the road toll],” he added. “I’ll take it to work and when I go out at night.”

Mr Abdulaziz will certainly save money. Depending on the length of a journey, the cost of a single trip can range from Dh1.8 to Dh6.5, while daily passes cost Dh14 each.

Some felt that the RTA’s awareness campaign had been deficient. Carol Burns, 50, a Briton who works in the health industry, said there had been rumours – but no official confirmation or denial – that the Metro would not be available to the general public on its much-touted opening date of 9/9/09.

“I believe it’s not open for the public tomorrow, but for the day after,” Mrs Burns, who lives in downtown Burj Dubai, correctly surmised. In fact, only 10 of the 29 stations on the Red Line will be open from the start.

It remains to be seen whether the Metro will, as the RTA hopes, increase the number of people who use public transportation in the city from below 10 per cent to 30 per cent. Lucian Deese, 27, a German national who was visiting Dubai, said he would find it difficult to take the Metro because the emirate was already heavily dependent on cars.

“Dubai is a car city, and the Metro doesn’t cover a lot of it.”

Some, however, were eagerly looking forward to riding the rails.

For Valerie, 60, a Briton and oil industry employee who did not wish to give her last name, the novelty of riding the advanced public transport system was reason enough to take the Metro. “It’s Dubai; you have to try all the new things at least once,” she said.


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Comment on this article

  • priyanandan, dubai,mangalore

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    thanksto the dubai goverment for introducing the first metro train to the passengers of dubai...

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • imtiaz Mohammed Hyder, Mangalore/Dubai

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    Wewhhh!!! It''s really relief... Oooof....... Atlast we have metro in Dubai.. May Allah Bless the makers of this day... truly as planned The Government of Dubai kept it''s word and Allah provided them with Success. May long Live RTA... and above All H.H. Shiekh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum My whole hearted CONGRATS!!!

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  • Thomas Dsouza, Gorigudda/Israel

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    Great Effort by RTA.very happy to hear that Dubai Metro set to dubai people will enjoy with saying bye bye for Trafic.

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  • manoj print point vittal, jordan dubai

    Thu, Sep 10 2009

    Really good this,,,,,,

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Kennedy, satwa /dubai

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    3 cheers to His highness Sheikh Maktoum and sheikh Mohammed ,they are real visionaries and have gone thru real tough times to get this project on track,thumbs down to all you critics ,appreciate the metro its worth it

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  • Max & Jessie Rasquinha, Mangalore/Houston, Tx

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    Smooth, safe and fastest means of mobility is the best way to cope with the progress and prosperity of a small city of Dubai where "big" and the "biggest" has blossomed over the years thru the innovative and dynamic spirits of the forward looking Rulers.

    Dubai Metro will certainly play an important role in the smooth, successful and convenient mode of transportation in this model city of the Persian Gulf region. We truly admire the foresight of the City planners and wish them best of luck in all that they project for the welfare of the people.

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  • Kevin Dias,

    Wed, Sep 09 2009

    Dubai the city of joy has gone ahead with another milestone, Dubai Metro finally being open tonight. With all the markets down around the globe, the ill spoken about a country spending too much, many failed to get back on their minds, that today if they are well in life is for the UAE,

    So lets thank the Goverment of Dubai, and may they go ahead with more projects and that the City of joy is back once again to what it was. Look at the Metro in Mumbai for example, do we see it geting ready in the next five years! This is my moment of joy, to hear that the Metro is finally ready, as I have seen the project in its early stage. .God Bless the Ruler and all those who have been on this project and those lost their life while on duty. God Bless.

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