Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Presidential Court, set out the UAE's ambition to be a global leader in the transport sector after attending the opening day of a major rail conference in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Mansour on Monday joined hundreds of industry leaders at Middle East Rail 2023, which is being staged at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.
He hailed the Etihad Rail mega project — which will stretch about 1,200km across the country and eventually offer both freight and passenger services — as central to the UAE's transport goals.
Sheikh Mansour underlined the importance of railway networks in supporting the economy, promoting investment opportunities and strengthening commercial ties, state news agency Wam reported.
The Vice President was joined at the opening ceremony of the event by Jasem Al Budaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Co-operation Council, Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, and a number of senior officials, transport ministers and leading figures from some of the world's biggest rail companies.
He watched a documentary charting the achievements of Etihad Rail.
Middle East Rail, which concludes on Tuesday, is expected to attract 10,000 visitors.
It will feature 400 speakers from across the region and beyond and host more than 100 presentations, panels and interviews, covering key topics such as sustainability, safety and data analysis.
This year's conference is being hosted by Etihad Rail and aims to showcase innovation and excellence delivered throughout the Middle East.
Etihad Rail announced in April that its vast freight train network was fully operational.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, officially opened the freight line in February.
It consists of a fleet of 38 locomotives and more than 1,000 wagons.
It is a central part of the UAE's national rail project, which will eventually connect the Emirates to the rest of the Gulf.