Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, HH Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Vice-Chairman of the Executive Council, opened MENA Transport Congress & Exhibition 2014 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The gathering was attended by HE Jassim Saif Ahmed Al Sulaiti, Qatari Minister of Transport, and Managing Director of Muwasalat Company in Qatar, Her Excellency Lina Shabib, Minister of Transport in Jordan, and a number of government department directors, as well as 400 participants hailing from 25 countries.
Upon arrival at the Dubai World Trade Center, HH Sheikh Maktoum was received by H.E. Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), H.E. Peter Hendy, President of the UITP, H.E. Alain Flausch, Secretary General of the UITP, and Dr. Abdul Aziz Al Ohali, Under Secretary of the Ministry of Transport for Transport Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of MENA UITP.
HH and the attendants headed to ceremony hall where the event was kicked off by the National Anthem, then Al Tayer delivered a speech in which he welcomed the Chief Guest, attendants and participants of the UITP MENA Congress and Exhibition 2014; which is a product of the cooperation and partnership between the RTA and the UITP providing for holding this event biennially for a ten years’ period, besides establishing the Middle East Center for Transport Excellence.
“Hosting this regional event as well as the 59th UITP Congress & Exhibition in 2011, by Dubai made the Emirate a center of public transport in the MENA region and a model to be emulated in the integrated transport systems,” said Al Tayer. “The Middle East is witnessing a speedy growth in all fields and to keep pace with this growth, the region is seeking to undertake promising public transport projects costing about $100bn. This underscores the importance of this congress which is considered a perfect opportunity for the congregation of officials and peoples concerned with the transport sector, as well as service providers, manufacturers, and operators in the sector where they can exchange views & expertise in addition to issues related to future challenges of transport, sustainability, conserving the environment and generalizing the benefits from modern practices and technologies in the field of transport,” he continued.
“The mass transportation systems in Dubai have undergone a quality shift over the past five years represented in the construction and operation of the Dubai Metro, equipping a modern public transport fleet with latest international specifications, and uplifting the marine transport systems & taxis; which account for a major portion of peoples mobility in the Emirate as they are being used by about 1.2 million persons per day,” he noted.
Al Tayer further added, “To keep abreast of the requirements of the sweeping development seen by Dubai spearheaded by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which has been accelerated in tempo since the announcement of the Dubai winning the bid to host the World Expo 2020, and in implementation of the directives of HH to migrate into the Smart City in which the smart mobility is considered a key constituent, the RTA has charted out an integrated plan for converting transport systems into smart, integrated and accessible transport means as the smart mobility is considered a key pillar of smart cities. The RTA will therefore provide more than 200 services by the end of 2015, and in November this year, it will operate the Dubai Tram; the third project worldwide fed by ground cable stretching along the tramway, with no overhead cables involved, besides being the world’s first tram that uses the automated door opening technology synchronized with the opening mechanism of platform doors.”
“The Dubai Metro riders whose number is estimated as half a million rider or more per day will be treated to an exceptional experience in March 2015 where six of the metro stations will be converted into art galleries showcasing artworks as well as artistic, cultural and historical innovations. Such a unique initiative is aimed at bringing novelties, artifacts, and cultural icons to the people instead of having the people brought to see them, so that they can savour this experience during their daily travel routines,” he concluded.
“Youth are considered a cornerstone of the development process and they shoulder the responsibility of supplementing the development drive. The RTA took the initiative of patronizing the Dubai Youth for Public Transport initiative launched by the UITP last year such that they act as awareness ambassadors communicating and highlighting the importance of public transport. The RTA has also launched the Dubai Youth for Public Transport to enhance the role of youth in boosting and encouraging the use of public transport means, and I’m pleased to welcome the participation of 34 male and female youths representing 19 countries to this Congress,” further added Al Tayer.
Concluding his speech, Al Tayer offered warm thanks to the President of the UITP for cooperation and support accorded to RTA efforts in hosting this important event. He also thanked the participants, attendants and sponsors of the Congress and Exhibition.
H.E. Jasim bin Saif Al Sulaiti, Qatar Minister of Transport, said, “The Congress and Exhibition is a splendid opportunity and a great platform to boost the knowledge & expertise as well as raising the awareness of the local transit options that contribute to rejuvenating the communal activities, curbing congestion and streamlining the provision of goods & services for community members. The UITP MENA has about 1300 member companies through which more than 14000 officials from various transport sectors between large, local, national and regional cities from 92 countries in all continents of the globe can interact. The Association is also a focal point of expertise and knowledge and a venue for sharing the best practices and standards. It is currently engaged in a process to unify the collective power of members and focus its ability on shaping the future and addressing the urban transport challenges in the waiting.”
The MENA UITP had been established in 2004 with a view to raising the awareness and inculcating the culture of public transport in the region as it is considered an accessible global crossroad, besides that the region boasts of rich traditions of hospitality and world-class service levels that help attract visitors.
“In 2022 Qatar will host Soccer World Cup, and a year earlier it will host the Continental Cup. The country had already embarked on an economic development drive involving revamping the infrastructure as reflected in a host of mega projects including Hamad International Airport, a new port at Al Wakra, metro & rail system and tunnels network stretching underneath Doha & its bay. Hosting the World Cup has triggered a new dynamism which has been smoothly integrated in infrastructure development plans, and creating a legacy of transport systems dedicated to this event in such a way than ensures a genuine social, human, economic and environmental legacy to keep pace with Qatar National Vision 2030,” he added.
“Since Qatar won the privilege to host Football World Cup, Muasalat company made a Memorandum of Understanding with the UITP for hosting and holding Public Transport Summit and great events of MENA for 10 years with a view to providing a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices between professionals of the industry and organizers of big events in addition to cooperating in mapping out superb international standards for fulfilling the requisites of mega events and bringing an immortal legacy,” he concluded.
“The 21st century is witnessing sprawling expansions in terms of infrastructure and mobility in the MENA region; which contributes to removing the barriers in the way of making success and boosting the economy in future, so making public transport means accessible is a key element in realizing that vision. It is imperative to continue investing in upgrading transport infrastructure in order to make a substantial difference in the economic and environmental efficiency of transport so that the future generations can have the transit means they need to make further successes,” added Al Sulaiti.
Here Excellency Lina Shabib, Jordan Minister of Transport reviewed the public transport model in Jordan which is provided by the private sector through licensed operators. The fleet comprises 5700 buses and 20000 taxis, which lift about two million persons per day. This sector is considered the second consumer of power in Jordan as the transport sector accounts for about 35% of total energy consumption.
“The Ministry of Transport attends to charting out transport policies, and each of the Land Transport Sector Organizing Authority, Greater Amman Municipality, and Al Aqaba Economic Zone Authority cater to implementing these policies. The Land Transport Sector Organizing Authority regulates transportation through organizing the process of granting licenses and permits, Amman Municipality attends to regulating transport within the capital peripheries, while Al Aqaba Economic Zone Authority is responsible for transportation within Al Aqaba Economic Zone,” she added.
Lina touched on the challenges facing the public transport sector in Jordan, including: the spreading of individual ownership, and the lack of institutional process amongst owners of individual transit means. Individual operators account for about 88% of the workforce of the sector; which resulted in a host of problems including lack of sustainability in delivering the service, service offering is restricted to areas generating high revenues for operators, depriving low population density areas from the service, poor infrastructure in terms of starting points, stops along the routes, disorderly design of public transport network, lack of financial support for the sector by the government, poor investment attraction of the sector, poor monitoring of public transport means & drivers, and the lack of legislative structures to streamline passenger transport sector.
The Jordanian Government is currently working on a number of infrastructure projects as well as organizational procedures to improve the quality and attractiveness of the services of the sector through encouraging the use of alternatives of private vehicles on roads in a bid to support a drive for migrating into public transport, providing multi-modes transport, providing good links between long and short distances and urban network and cities in order to ensure high levels of accessibility. Strategies and necessary work plans have been developed which resulted in several projects highlighted by nurturing a proper legislative environment for managing & streamlining the sector through rules, regulations and instructions, implementing a package of specialized technical studies to assess the volume of demand for the service, restructuring the public transport network to align passenger needs with the public transport system through developing master transport plan, providing infrastructure, and attending to the requirements of public transport in terms of starting points, pick up points and border crossing, constructing and operating intelligent transportation systems in the public transport sector, providing bus tracking systems, and revamping public buses. The government has provide the financial support needed through customs and taxi exemptions to rehabilitate the bus fleet and the number of buses that have been revamped since the start of the project has hit 2000 buses.
The Ministry of Transport is also seeking to include the transport sector as part of the Investment Act in order to open the door for investors to invest in this sector, and provide the financial support for the sector where the government provides support for the services of lifting students of formal universities. The subsidy is expected to be expanded after the completion of the project of intelligent transport systems project. It also seeks to implement express shuttle bus service through main routes which have high demand within Amman Municipality, and between Amman and Al Zarqaa, in addition to procuring new bus network as suggested in the Master Plan of Land Transport Organizing Authority for restructuring buses along with the hierarchical and integrated structuring of services.
During the opening ceremony, a movie was presented documenting the evolution of the RTA in uplifting the public transport sector; which was restricted to abras and a limited number of buses. Today it boasts an integrated public transport means comprising the Dubai Metro, the longest driverless metro in the world, more than 1300 modern buses at world-class standards, and a range of diverse marine transport means such as the water bus, water taxi, Dubai Ferry and abras. The film also depicts the growth of public transport sector in Dubai Emirate from the past up to the present time along with a futuristic vision of public transport in Dubai.
Afterwards Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed opened the accompanying Exhibition and toured along with the attendants the stands of the show which comprises 66 pavilions for companies from 16 countries showcasing cutting-edge technologies.