Dubai has become the first Gulf state to have its own metro (subway) system, but being Dubai it’s all a bit different from London or Paris.
For a start, there are three classes of carriage. Oil executives and sheikhs will be in ‘gold’ – with wide leather seats, on-board wi-fi and a front-of-train view. The rest – including tourists and migrant workers – will ride in standard, while there’s a third area for women and children.
The Dubai city metro cost $7.6 billion (£4.6 billion) to build. It has one line – Red – open at the moment, with another, Green, to follow in the summer of next year. It will eventually become the world’s longest driverless train system with more than 43 miles of track.
The BBC’s correspondent in Dubai, Julia Wheeler, says that one of the main challenges will be to persuade motorists, who are used to subsidised fuel and the privacy of air-conditioned comfort, to swap their cars for a mass transit system. With daytime temperatures regularly exceeding 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), this is not straightforward.
Dubai’s ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, saw the project as a vital piece of infrastructure that could revitalise the city. “It’s the start of something,” he told reporters on the eve of the project’s launch. “It is like when the first plane flew for Emirates [the airline] and the first container ship arrived into port.”
by Andy Moreton
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