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What Is the Dubai Metro System?


What Is the Dubai Metro System?

One of the 643-passenger, five-car automated trains that will ferry people around in Dubai's new metro system.

Question: What Is the Dubai Metro System?
Answer: The Dubai Metro system is the Middle East's first pilotless mass-transit system. Ten of the 29 stations along its 32.4-mile (52.1 km) Red Line were scheduled to open on Sept. 9, 2009. Just four of the 29 stations will be underground. Elsewhere the system will run along elevated viaducts. The Red Line, when fully operational, was to run run from Rashidiya to Jebel Ali, and would serve the American University of Dubai along the way. The 14-mile (22.5 km), 14-station Green Line, scheduled to open in 2010, will run from Al Qusais to Jaddaf, serving 18 stations, including six underground. Dubai Airport and Healthcare City are along the Green Line. The Green and Red lines will cross at two transfer stations--Union Square and the BurJuman Centre.

Trains will run at 10-minute intervals.

On Aug. 30, 2009, Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman and Executive Director of Dubai's Roads and Transportation Authority, said Dubai will spend Dh12.5 billion ($3.4 billion) more than originally budgeted for the metro system, for a total of Dh28 billion, or $7.62 billion, just for the Red and Green lines. A third, Purple Line, is planned. Officially, design changes and line extensions accounted for the cost increases.

Dubai Metro will be using trains built by Japanese manufacturer Kinki Sharyo. Some 87, five-car trains will run along the two lines. Each train has a capacity of 643 passengers (seated and standing). Trains will be divided into three social classes--Gold Class, Women and Children class, and regular Silver Class, or economy, a reflection of the United Arab Emirates' still-stilted segregationist tradition.

Currently, the world's longest pilotless mass-transit metro system is Vancouver's SkyTrain. Dubai's metro won't become the longest automated system until its second line is fully operational.

Architecture and Jobs

The Dubai Metro is aesthtetically designed around four elements--air, earth, fire and water, with its stations' mix of modernist and traditional architecture reflecting the four themes. The stations' shell-shaped roofs, for example, invoke Dubai's pear-diving heritage.

That the system is pilotless doesn't mean it isn't a jobs trove. The Red Line alone is employing 1,500 people, from technical engineers to cleaners, 30 percent of whom are required to be local Emiratis (the United Arab Emirates' population is almost two-thirds foreign).

Other Subway and Light Rail Systems in the Middle East

Several Middle East nations have subway or light-rail mass-transit systems. Tehran's subway system has two lines. Cairo's subway opened in 1987. Egypt has light-rail systems in Alexandria, Heliopolis and Helwan. Tukey has seven such systems--in Adana, Ankara, Antalya, Bursa, Istanbul, Ismir and Konya. Israel has one, small subway line in Haifa, the Carmelit. Pakistan has been planning subway lines in Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi, but it's been more talk than construction.
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