H.E. Dr. Nasser Saif Al-Mansoori, CEO of Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway network, has just returned from the United States where he attended and actively participated in the Global Infrastructure Conference at the United States Department of State in Washington, D.C., hosted by Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The conference welcomed senior government officials from the UAE, Colombia, India and Indonesia, and business executives from over 90 American companies with the aim of identifying new investment opportunities for U.S. companies, particularly in markets that will see ambitious infrastructure development over the coming decades. In her keynote speech, Secretary Clinton emphasised the importance of infrastructure to the future growth of the world economy and underscored her country’s commitment to working with countries like the UAE to develop innovative ideas and partnerships to spur economic growth.
Following Secretary Clinton’s speech, the conference broke out into industry-specific sessions with H.E. Dr. Al-Mansoori anchoring the panel for the session entitled ‘Transportation Opportunities in the UAE,’ which was moderated by Susan Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs of the U.S. Department of Transportation. In his session, H.E. Dr. Al-Mansoori highlighted the long-term impact of infrastructure in driving economic development and sustainable growth.
Discussing the major infrastructure milestones achieved in the UAE, particularly in recent years, H.E. Dr. Al Mansoori went on to describe the positive impact and contribution of such projects, not just with regards to the quality of life for both UAE Nationals and residents, but also in the unlimited opportunities that have transpired for the UAE’s various industries as a direct result. Such rapid growth and development, he explained, are thanks to the visionary leadership of UAE leaders and their dedication and commitment to developing a state-of-the-art infrastructure that will strategically diversify the nation’s economy. He further emphasised that infrastructure is a vital component of every vision and strategic plan in the UAE, opening doors for internal and external investment, as well as building partnerships and facilitating knowledge transfer.
Other members of the UAE delegation to the conference included senior officials and experts from Etihad Rail as well as from Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Company, Abu Dhabi Ports Company, and the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, D.C.
The AED 40 billion Etihad Rail project embodies the UAE’s leadership vision to diversify the economy and sustain social development and economic growth, in line with the Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030 and the UAE Vision 2021. Upon completion, the 1,200km Etihad Rail network – which will cater to both freight and passengers – will connect urban and remote communities, facilitate trade, open up communication channels and foster economic development. The network will also form a vital part of the GCC Railway Network – linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.
Etihad Rail has already brought US expertise on board for the rail project. Joint venture Parsons-Aecom – with US-based Parsons – was awarded the Project Management Consultant contract for the entire railway network in 2011. Furthermore, last year Etihad Rail signed a deal with U.S.-based Electro-Motive Diesel (EMD), one of the world’s largest builders of diesel-electric locomotives, to design and manufacture seven heavy haul freight locomotives scheduled for Stage One of the rail network. These locomotives are set to be delivered later this year.
Construction work on Stage One, which links Shah and Habshan to Ruwais, is already underway, and the tendering process is already in progress for Stage Two, which will connect the railway to Mussafah, to the Gulf ports (Khalifa and Jebel Ali Ports) and the Saudi and Omani borders.