Abu Dhabi - November 22, 2008: A traffic jam at the interesection of Mina Road and Old Mazed St in the Tourist Club Area on a Saturday afternoon in Abu Dhabi, November 22, 2008. FOR STOCK (Jeff Topping/The National) *** Local Caption ***  JT006-1122-TRAFFIC JAM IMG_0965.jpg
Entangled traffic in the Tourist Club area, a regular occurrence the new transport targets hope to eliminate.

New public transport targets



The Government is pushing forward with plans for its public transport system in a bid to overcome road congestion that is stifling the flow of people and goods. New targets for Abu Dhabi's tram, metro rail, regional rail and bus networks are being revealed following a workshop hosted by the Department of Transport (DOT). The transport agency could invite bids for tram and metro construction in Abu Dhabi soon after it releases the Surface Transport Master Plan in February, as the Government races to open the first links of both projects by about 2015.

"We need to get moving on this very quickly," said a transport specialist at the workshop last week. "We are not just going to keep on studying." A freight rail system being overseen by the National Transport Authority is expected to be completed much sooner, however, to coincide with the opening by about 2011 of the Khalifa Port and Industrial Zone in Taweelah. Meanwhile, another 500 buses are expected to be on Abu Dhabi streets by June to bolster the new network.

A comprehensive and multi-layered mass transit system is envisaged for the emirate in the next two decades at a cost that could reach Dh200 billion (US$54.45bn). The framework includes new roads and highways, water taxis, buses, trams, metro and regional rail links. The first section of the freight railway was planned to connect the new port with Abu Dhabi International Airport and Musaffah industrial zone, according to a customs official. "After these first sections it is our idea to link the whole GCC," said Saeed Ahmad al Muhairi, a general manager of the General Administration of Customs, during the International Freight Week exhibition in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Separately, the DOT is planning a passenger rail service to Dubai, which may not be finished until years later.

Plans have moved beyond the conceptual stage to focus on detailed, three-dimensional designs throughout the city. A few months ago, planners may have focused on safeguarding wide rights of way, but efforts are now underway to finalise the network through Abu Dhabi's existing neighbourhoods and new areas envisaged under its 2030 plan. Planners are threading transport systems under and around buildings, and are also considering extensions such as a metro link to Marina Mall.

The construction community is awaiting the terms of reference for the first tram and metro contracts following the completion of the Government's comprehensive Surface Transport Master Plan, which evaluates the benefit of investing in public transport against building more roads and highways. The transport department is giving priority to tram and metro lines within the new central business district and Sowwah Island, which will become the de facto town centre. Meanwhile, the most developed tram work to date is at Raha Beach. Some tough choices are also expected for the heavy rail line. Mr Muhairi said up to 2,000 road lorry trips to the border could be eliminated each day with a railway. However, designing a route network that satisfies both freight and passenger needs is a challenge, according to people at the DOT workshop. This has been highlighted by a discussion on the placing of a railway line to Al Ain. Freight companies would prefer the railway to bypass the city and terminate at the industrial areas, while supporters of a passenger service argue the railway should wind through Al Ain residential areas to better serve these communities.

The freight rail line took several steps closer to reality this year when the Government hired Systra, the French rail firm, and Bechtel, the American contractor, as consultants. A rail committee and a new agency, Union Railway, is overseeing the plans. Several hundred interested parties from the Government and private sector attended the DOT workshop last week. The media and public were excluded, despite being initially invited to participate.

igale@thenational.ae

How The Debt Panel's advice helped readers in 2019

December 11: 'My husband died, so what happens to the Dh240,000 he owes in the UAE?'

JL, a housewife from India, wrote to us about her husband, who died earlier this month. He left behind an outstanding loan of Dh240,000 and she was hoping to pay it off with an insurance policy he had taken out. She also wanted to recover some of her husband’s end-of-service liabilities to help support her and her son.

“I have no words to thank you for helping me out,” she wrote to The Debt Panel after receiving the panellists' comments. “The advice has given me an idea of the present status of the loan and how to take it up further. I will draft a letter and send it to the email ID on the bank’s website along with the death certificate. I hope and pray to find a way out of this.”

November 26:  ‘I owe Dh100,000 because my employer has not paid me for a year’

SL, a financial services employee from India, left the UAE in June after quitting his job because his employer had not paid him since November 2018. He owes Dh103,800 on four debts and was told by the panellists he may be able to use the insolvency law to solve his issue. 

SL thanked the panellists for their efforts. "Indeed, I have some clarity on the consequence of the case and the next steps to take regarding my situation," he says. "Hopefully, I will be able to provide a positive testimony soon."

October 15: 'I lost my job and left the UAE owing Dh71,000. Can I return?'

MS, an energy sector employee from South Africa, left the UAE in August after losing his Dh12,000 job. He was struggling to meet the repayments while securing a new position in the UAE and feared he would be detained if he returned. He has now secured a new job and will return to the Emirates this month.

“The insolvency law is indeed a relief to hear,” he says. "I will not apply for insolvency at this stage. I have been able to pay something towards my loan and credit card. As it stands, I only have a one-month deficit, which I will be able to recover by the end of December." 

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Company Profile

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Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
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Apple Mac through the years

1984 - Apple unveiled the Macintosh on January 24
1985 - Steve Jobs departed from Apple and established NeXT
1986 - Apple introduced the Macintosh Plus, featuring enhanced memory
1987 - Apple launched the Macintosh II, equipped with colour capabilities
1989 - The widely acclaimed Macintosh SE/30 made its debut
1994 - Apple presented the Power Macintosh
1996 - The Macintosh System Software OS underwent a rebranding as Mac OS
2001 - Apple introduced Mac OS X, marrying Unix stability with a user-friendly interface
2006 - Apple adopted Intel processors in MacBook Pro laptops
2008 - Apple introduced the MacBook Air, a lightweight laptop
2012 - Apple launched the MacBook Pro with a retina display
2016 - The Mac operating system underwent rebranding as macOS
2020 - Apple introduced the M1 chip for Macs, combining high performance and energy efficiency
2022 - The M2 chip was announced
2023 -The M3 line-up of chip was announced to improve performance and add new capabilities for Mac.

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