Etihad Rail, the master developer and operator of the UAE’s national railway, has hosted two successive seminars in Dubai last week. The seminars are one of several initiatives Etihad Rail is undertaking to provide an opportunity for its team to share industry best practices and build relationships with potential customers. The company also, last month, held a seminar for a number of its key stakeholders to engage with them, and involve and update them on the railway’s final stages of planning.
Commenting on the rationale behind the industry seminars, Shadi Malak, Executive Director Commercial at Etihad Rail, said: “We at Etihad Rail are committed to working with our industry partners to fully understand their business needs in order to provide a railway network that meets their requirements. The seminars have enabled us to share ideas with these important partners as well as further cultivate our working relations with them. Ultimately, Etihad Rail is equipped to offer customised logistics solutions to ambitious companies seeking greater efficiency, reliability and competitive advantage.”
And discussing the stakeholder seminar, he added: “Etihad Rail sees enormous value in strengthening our ties with our stakeholders and working closely with them to understand their goals, business objectives and aspirations. We believe that through such co-ordination and co-operation we will help fuel the national economy and achieve the UAE’s 2021 strategy and Abu Dhabi’s 2030 Vision.”
Geared towards industry leaders in the retail bulk commodities as well as the wholesale containerised sectors, the industry seminars saw the formation of the Quarry Products Group, as well as the Shipping & Freight Advisory Groups. These two groups, comprising leading companies within each respective field, will work closely with Etihad Rail to provide insight and expertise about what is required to build and operate the next generation of intermodal and loading and unloading facilities.
Led by Etihad Rail’s Commercial Team, the seminars demonstrated the proactive steps that Etihad Rail is taking to ensure that relevant sectors of the market are fully informed of the many benefits and solutions that rail can bring to their business. Some 15 different quarry operators were in attendance, including many of the largest bulk commodities companies in the UAE, and more than 30 different transport entities were represented – all proposing ideas that Etihad Rail may be able to implement in its future rail plans. Transportation of bulk commodities and containers is a primary focus for Etihad Rail – whose landmark project will see a 1,200km network spanning across the Emirates and catering to both freight and passengers.
Feedback from the potential customers in attendance was extremely positive as they cited the benefits of such an event for their business and industry. Simon Turner, QA/QC Manager of Stevin Rock LLC, said: "The Etihad Rail project presents a unique opportunity for the UAE quarry industry to work towards sustainable transport practices, reducing our carbon footprint and impact on local and national highway infrastructure."
And Julius Mooney, Strategic Business Development Manager of freight forwarder Hellmann, said: “The Etihad Rail project is incredibly enterprising and shows the GCC moving towards a more sustainable and organised mode of transport in the 21st century. The possibility of the line replacing and improving feeder vessel routes is a very strong selling point. And further down the line, a seamless route between the UAE and Saudi, potentially streamlining customs procedures, is attractive to both logistics companies and end users.”
Etihad Rail’s seminar earlier in the summer was aimed at its key stakeholders and provided them with information on the railway’s latest progress, including updated concept routes, facilities and planned project timescales. This seminar also provided an effective forum for participants to give their necessary feedback and insight. Like the industry seminars, this event was yet another way that Etihad Rail is inviting and encouraging stakeholder engagement by opening up channels of communication.
Further emphasising the importance of keeping key players involved and informed in the final stages of the network planning process, Etihad Rail’s Executive Director – Commercial, Shadi Malak, adds: “Exchanging information and sharing ideas is vital to ensuring productivity, efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately success in our business endeavours at Etihad Rail.”
The first route of the Etihad Rail network will be constructed in partnership with Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and will carry granulated sulphur from sources in Shah and Habshan for export in Ruwais. Construction of this phase of the network is due to start before the end of 2011. By 2013, the UAE will see the first trains running in the Western Region of the Abu Dhabi Emirate.