What impact will the Etihad Rail project have on the economy of the UAE?
BOWKER: The Etihad Rail project will have a transformational effect on the way that people and goods move around the UAE. It will change logistics and provide companies and industries with new, better, cheaper, and more sustainable ways of carrying goods. For that reason, it is a genuinely transformational project. It will impact on the future of all sorts of travel opportunities here in the UAE. We have let the contracts for stage one of the railway, that’s over AED 3.5bn ($953m) of contracts to begin the construction of the first stage, which is 266km of railway. We are now about to begin stage 2, and stage 2 is bigger again. This stage is finishing the railway throughout the whole of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, around 600km of railway connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi, the port of Jebal Ali, and the new port in Abu Dhabi, Khalifa in the industrial zone, genuinely changing the way that goods and services can move around this country.
Where do we stand with regard to Phase II tenders?
BOWKER: We are about to begin a major tendering exercise for the next stage of the railway. That involves seeking expressions of interest and putting the tenders together for this next stage, so this is a very large undertaking. We will be launching that very soon and hoping to be moving forward on that into 2012.
How coordinated is transportation infrastructure build-out from the government of Abu Dhabi?
BOWKER: There is a tremendous approach to integration and joined up planning and development. Taking two project examples, Etihad Rail and KIZAD (Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi), the new industrial zone and port development, those two projects are being developed very closely together. So KIZAD has already made provisions for the railway to go right through the middle of the industrial zone, right through the offshore island, to connect the railway straight onto the cay side for the container movement. So this is genuinely joined up and I think that will enable the UAE to have such a competitive advantage in the future.
The Etihad Rail project will have a transformational effect on the way that people and goods move around the UAE. It will change logistics and provide companies and industries with new, better, cheaper, and more sustainable ways of carrying goods. For that reason, it is a genuinely transformational project.