A commercial high-speed Hyperloop system is to be built in the next two years in Abu Dhabi, under a landmark deal signed by Aldar Properties and one of the leading companies behind the technology.
Construction on a 10km Hyperloop transport system, using electro-magnetic levitation engineering to carry pods at 1,200kph, will begin in a critical development area between Abu Dhabi and Dubai in 2019.
A transport hub and XO Square Innovation Centre for ongoing research and development by Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, the California-based firm behind the project, will be developed in Aldar's Seih Al Sdeirah landbank in Abu Dhabi.
The technology promises to reduce travel times between emirates from hours to just minutes.
“We are delighted to be working with HyperloopTT as they look to bring one of the world’s most revolutionary transportation technologies to Abu Dhabi,” said Talal Al Dhiyebi, chief executive of Aldar Properties.
“Alghadeer sits at such a strategic point within the UAE – close to major growth areas of both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, that it makes sense to pair it with rapid transport opportunities.
“We believe that Hyperloop technology can have a major positive impact on the lives of all of those living within our communities, and we look forward to this possibility becoming a reality.”
The site is close to the residential development of Alghadeer, where Aldar has planned a Dh10 billion development including 611 affordable homes starting from Dh290,000.
Details of the joint project for a high-speed connection between Alghadeer and potentially Yas Island, airport terminals and Al Ain were announced at the Adnec Cityscape property exhibition.
“This agreement creates the basis for the first commercial Hyperloop system in the world here in the Emirates, with the goal of eventually connecting Abu Dhabi to Al Ain, Dubai, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia,” said Bibop Gresta, chairman of HyperloopTT.
“With regulatory support, we hope the first section will be operational in time for Expo 2020.”
HyperloopTT plans construction of the line in several phases starting within the ten kilometre allocation, with further development aimed at creating a commercial Hyperloop network across the Emirates and beyond.
Earlier this month, HyperloopTT began construction of the first full-scale passenger and freight prototype system in Toulouse, France.
Developers promise the technology will be affordable and sustainable, using efficient and renewable energy sources.
The company expects delivery of the first passenger capsule later this year that will be assembled and optimised in Toulouse, prior to use in the Emirates.
A similar innovation centre to the one planned for Alghadeer recently launched in Brazil, alongside plans for a freight Hyperloop system to transport iron ore and other minerals around the country at high speed.
Freight terminals could also become a natural progression for the technology in the UAE, developers have said.
Extensive studies have been completed by Hyperloop TT using global experts in the field to present a viable plan to the UAE.
With government backing in the form of permits and regulatory assistance, the company has surged ahead of its competitors in the race to bring the technology to a commercial market.
Competitors at the Sir Richard Branson backed Virgin Hyperloop One have proposed a similar system for Saudi Arabia to reduce journey times from Riyadh to Jeddah from 10 hours to just 76 minutes.
That project is planned for 2030, whilst studies have also been done on a potential high speed line connecting Pune and Mumbai in India.
With the rapid development of HyperloopTT’s passenger pods and transport tubes in France, the company looks the most likely to bring the first commercial line into public use.
“A forward-thinking nation like the UAE is ideal for building the most revolutionary, most efficient, and fastest transportation system in the world,” said Dirk Ahlborn, chief executive of HyperloopTT.
“With this historic agreement in Abu Dhabi, we take a big step towards the world’s first commercial system.”