Dubai kicks off Gulf’s first tram with fireworks

Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum launched the Dubai Tram on Tuesday

Hind Mustafa

Published: Updated:

Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) inaugurated on Tuesday phase one of the Dubai Tram, the first of its kind in the GCC.

The emirate’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammad bin Rashed al-Maktoum attended the launch of the Tram, which will move commuters along a 10.6 kilometer-long route.

The trains will be open for the public on Wednesday, Nov. 12.

“The tram project started in 2008, but the execution began four years ago [in 2010],” Engineer Muna Alosaimi, deputy director of Rail Planning and Projects Development, told Al Arabiya News while taking the first trip into the train.

“Phases 2 and 3 will come to life between 2020 and 2025, based on the overall planning of Dubai’s development and the given conditions in the future,” she added.

The route helps residents commute in Dubai’s heavily congested business and residential areas along Al Sufouh Road.

Construction of phase two is expected to start in 2015, when new lines will be introduced that will extent to other neighborhoods in the city.

The current line includes 11 stations: Sufouh, Knowledge Village, Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Media City, Mina Siyahi, Marina Towers, Dubai Marina – linked with the Metro’s Damac station, Dubai Marina Mall, Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) – linked with the Metro’s JLT station, Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) 1 and JBR 2.

During the inauguration, Dubai’s sky lit up with fireworks as soon as the Crown Prince signaled the launch of the first train, moments before he took his first trip, along with other officials.

Manually driven

Unlike the Dubai Metro, which is controlled through the central operation room without the need of a driver, Dubai Tram, which does not exceed the speed of 50km/hr is operated by manpower.

For the inauguration, Hassan al-Mutawa, deputy director of rail operations at the RTA drove the first commuters.

“Me and my director Mohammad al-Mudharreb were the first two local drivers for the tram, this is unbelievable,” he told Al Arabiya News.

According to Mutawa, there will be around 35 drivers rotating on seven trams.

“There will be shifts of 7 hours. Each shift is divided into three hours of driving, one hour break, then another 3 hours of driving,” he said.

He owed the drivers’ short shifts to the fact that the tram will run through the streets of Dubai, just like cars, and does not have its own path like the Metro.

“We have almost 28 junctions, between cars and pedestrian crossings; we have the signal system which controls the whole crossing.”

“When the tram is nearing the junction, the priority is for the tram,” he said.

Expo 2020

Dubai is set to host the World Expo 2020, and the city has been investing in numerous infrastructure projects to prepare for the global event.

But Alosaimi said that the tram is not likely to service the area where the expo will be held.

“The tram will not service that area; it is a little far… Phases 2 and 3 will be directed towards Juemirah,” she said.

The districts of Jumeirah 1, 2 and 3 makes up the seafront line of the emirate.

“Expo will be services through and extension of the Dubai Metro, not the Tram.”

Dubai, home to over two million inhabitants, inaugurated its metro rail network in 2009.