Abu Dhabi powers ahead to get own railway system

Emirate signs up Germany’s Dornier to study linkage with possible GCC-wide rail network

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By  Eudore Chand Published  March 12, 2005

The emirate of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates is the latest to join in the race for a rail system in the Gulf, raising hopes for — initially a UAE-wide — and eventually a Gulf-wide rail network. The project gathered momentum during the visit of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, during which time the Abu Dhabi government signed several agreements with German entities relating to its proposed rail project. Abu Dhabi has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dornier Consulting of Germany for a railway system and its possible linkage with a system that will network the six GCC countries. Dubai is about to announce the name of the contractor that will build its Light Rail System, while Saudi Arabia is in the process of creating a rail bridge that will cross the Arabian Peninsula and link the Red Sea with the Arabian Gulf Abu Dhabi’s MoU on the development of a railway system was signed in Abu Dhabi by Salem Mohammed Al Dhaheri, undersecretary in the emirate’s Department of Planning and Economy. Herbert Grunwald, president and CEO, represented Dornier Consulting. Also present at the signing were the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, and General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, according to Wam. Under the terms of the MoU, Dornier will investigate and conduct feasibility studies on how to link the Emirates with the neighbouring GCC countries. The feasibility report will form the basis of a master plan that will produce a more structured and detailed plan on how to construct a railway system, in addition to the UAE’s existing road network. At the time of going to press, the value of the contract has not yet been revealed. The details of the project and its investment outlay will only be known after the feasibility study has been completed and submitted. “The MoU is intended to strengthen existing bonds and to increase the co-operation between the UAE and German transportation consulting companies in the field of rail systems,” said an official statement carried by Wam. “The emirate of Abu Dhabi aims at exploring the potential for rail-based transportation in the UAE by capitalising on the existing world-class German know-how in railway- technology (including Transrapid), railway-infrastructure and operational experience in track guided transportation,” the statement added. The proposed rail project in Abu Dhabi is yet another indicator that the UAE’s largest emirate has begun to move. It recently announced plans to build a new gateway city to the UAE’s capital along its Al Raha beachfront. Abu Dhabi also has other major development projects related to infrastructure development, redevelopment and the creation of major tourism and business facilities in both Abu Dhabi City and Al Ain, the emirate’s second major city. Apart from the rail project, Abu Dhabi signed seven other agreements during Chancellor Schroeder’s visit, most of which relate to the construction sector with German firms. One was the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the fifth privatisation project (IWPP) of the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was signed between Asia Gulf Power Holding Company and a consortium led by Siemens AG Power Generation with Fisia Italimpianti (Italy) and Babcock Borsig Services (Germany). The total value of the contract is US $860 million, $430 million of which is Siemens’ share. Another contract was won by Fichtner Consulting Engineers for services related to the Fujairah 400 kV power substation. The value of the contract is US $2 million. Bauer Electrical Middle East signed a contract for electromechanical works at the Government Hospital of Fujairah. The value of the contract is $1 million (AED3.7 million). Contracts worth over $1.32 billion were finalised during the German leader’s tour to the Gulf states, with a major portion of the agreements being signed in the UAE, according to a spokesperson for the German delegation. Other UAE contracts include the US $211 million deal by Rheinmetall to supply the UAE Armed Forces with armored ‘Fuchs’ vehicles, which come equipped with a detection-laboratory. Another US $132 million contract went to Rohde und Schwarz for the supply of advanced communications equipment. The European Corporate Management Group signed an MoU for the creation and launch of an Islamic German Buyout Private Equity Fund that will invest in German middle market companies. The volume of the fund will be up to US $250 million.

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