Dubai has always been referred to as the the business hub, the tourist hub, the link of the east to the west and what not. Be it the numerous cities (Dubai Sports City, Dubai Healthcare City, Dubai International Academic city, Dubai Media city etc), the humungous number of malls, the biggest and tallest structures and building, one of the largest airports in the world Dubai has been there done that. I admire the vision of the rulers who planned well in advance and thus were able to generate other sources of income like tourism, education, healthcare. But as they say Muscateers (like ME :)) who have stayed for a long time in Muscat dont generally like Dubai too much and vice versa because these two cities are as different as chalk and cheese. If Muscat is serene, quiet and peaceful, Dubai is the exact opposite as its unofficial tagline states “The city that never sleeps”. I personally feel that though they have managed to become a very rapidly growing economy due to their efforts, they have compensated their lack of natural beauty by going on a massive construction drive making it a concrete jungle.
But I really salute each and everyone who worked to make their latest dream – “The Dubai Metro” a reality. It has the distinction of being the world first automated driverless train system. The work for it had begun way back in 2005 when the first contract was given to the Dubai Rail Link Consortium made up of a group of Japanese companies. 4 lines have been proposed – red, green, purple and blue of which red has partially opened. When completed this would include 70 kilometers of lines as well as 47 stations. The Roads and Transport Authority’s masterplan includes 320 km of metro lines and 270 km of tram lines up to 2020 to cater to the expected 3.3 million population of the city. There are plans for 268km of light rail tracks to act as a feeder system for the Metro. The fate of this entire network – which would reportedly be divided into Yellow, Orange, Magenta and Black lines – is now dependent on an economic recovery and private investment.
Now this sounds like something crazy as usual coming out of Dubai. But even though it may be costly, I firmly believe that Dubai has taken a giant step towards reducing the number of cars on their roads and thus helping reduce pollution. People will surely have issues as was already seen from the fact that some didnt like the idea of giving up the comfort of their own cars, some had issues regarding parking at the Mall of the Emirates due to heavy charges while others just had a problem with trying something like this.
But the fact that 40,000 cars were off the roads on a day or two after the Metro shows that its on the right track. It has given people an altogether new way to see Dubai. The first few days would surely be full as was seen from certain minor glitches due to extreme rush. The thrill has spilled over to cyberspace with people discussing about it on Twitter, Orkut, Facebook, blogs everywhere.
The commencement of the Metro on the date fixed 3 years ago, the impeccable interiors and stations, the proper maintainence (some people said that the way it ran on the first day seemed like it had run for years), the subsidized rates (I hope they remain in the reach of the common man) are some of the most amazing features of this intiative.
I hope the other countries would consider try to emulate this model for the bright future of our planet. Hats off to Dubai for creating something which would surely imprint its name in history.