Middle East Rail to focus on disruptive forces and tech

Future networks, mobility and manufacturing among highlights as global railway industry leaders convene in Dubai next week

More than 350 global construction and engineering companies, contractors and solution providers, as well as regional and international railway operators will participate in the upcoming Middle East Rail exhibition to be held on March 7-8 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

Organised by Terrapinn Middle East in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Infrastructure Development and the Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime, the event is expected to see the region’s most influential annual gathering of global innovators, futurists and thought leaders representing the rail transport sector under one roof. The event, in its 11th edition this year, will also feature an expanded focus on new markets and a distinguished line-up of expert speakers, according to Terrapinn.

At a press conference to announce the details of the event, Dr. Abdulla Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE minister of Infrastructure Development and Chairman of the Federal Transport Authority, said: “Middle East Rail has grown from strength to strength over the past decade and we are truly proud to play a lead role in bringing together government ministers, thought leaders, innovators, and policymakers under one roof to coordinate progress in the rail industry as a whole.

“The show demonstrates our support and commitment to build a world-class transport infrastructure system in the region. Furthermore, we look forward to our continued work with Etihad Rail, which will boost economic and trade ties between the GCC states.”

Also attending the press conference were Dr. Abdulla S. Al Katheeri, director general, Federal Transport Authority – Land & Maritime, UAE, and Jamie Hosie, general manager, Terrapinn Middle East.

Announcing the names of the key exhibitors, the organisers said Etihad Rail, X Rail, Greenbrier, Hyperloop, Thales, RATP DEV, CAF, AECOM, Network Rail, Autodesk and others had confirmed their participation at the show.

A series of interactive sessions have been designed to introduce both 2017 tenders and innovative technologies being implemented to build and operate futuristic networks, it was revealed. The show will host over 800 C-level executives representing $352 billion worth of rail projects in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, as well as global thought leaders including Sir Peter Hendy, chairman of Network Rail, UK; Henrik Hololei, director general – Mobility and Transport, European Commission; Howard Smith, operations director at Crossrail, UK; and Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, USA.

“Ten years ahead, we will see a complete transformation of transport infrastructure across the region from west to east. The show brings together the biggest global innovators, futurists and gurus to discuss disruptive forces that are reshaping the competitive landscape, and that augurs well for the industry’s future in the region by providing greater visibility of planned investments, driving productivity and technological innovations,” said Hosie.

“The show will host four country pavilions from Italy, China, Spain, and the UK. This year, the Chinese and Spanish pavilions have increased in size by over 55%. We have seen a surge in the participation of railway wagon manufacturers from Russia and the US, and we have also strengthened the maintenance, signalling and communication and the construction profiles of the show.”

This year’s edition of the show will see the introduction of the Manufacturing Zone and Mobility Oriented Development Zone, which offer solutions providers and manufacturing suppliers an opportunity to meet with prospective buyers and build their brand, Terrapinn said.

A dedicated Career Zone, where university graduates can learn about career prospects within the industry as well as establish contacts with regional rail operators, government authorities and leading multinational rail suppliers, will also be included.

According to a report produced by Terrapinn in collaboration with construction projects tracker Ventures ONSITE, the total value of GCC rail projects in the pipeline stands at over $240bn, with $69bn worth of projects currently under construction. In terms of overall expenditure on rail projects, Saudi Arabia and the UAE lead the GCC.

Key projects expected to be awarded to contractors in Saudi Arabia in 2017 are Zulfi – Al Majmaah Passenger Railway; North South Rail – Waad Al Shimal – Turaif – Al Jouf (ST320); and the Makkah Mass Rail Transit (MMRT) – Makkah Metro. The planned investments of $30bn in the UAE’s railway networks include the Abu Dhabi Metro and Light Rail, skyTran Yas Island, the next stages of the Etihad Rail national network, the Dubai Metro extension for Expo 2020 and the new stages of the Al-Sufouh Tram.

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