Dubai to Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes: It’s happening…

The Hyperloop is no longer just a pipe dream: in fact, if the technology stands up the first system will be in the UAE, possibly within five years…

There’s been speculation for a while, but it’s just been confirmed that the first Hyperloop will be built in the UAE. This means passengers will be able to travel between the emirates at 1,200 kilometres per hour (the max speed of a Boeing 747 is 825 kilometres per hour).

How do we know it’s happening here? Well Hyperloop One, the leading Hyperloop company in the world, has just signed a deal with RTA to intensely study building the first system here (for both passengers and cargo).

So yes, that means a journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi will take only 12 minutes.

When will it all start? Well they’ve said that they could have an operational system connecting Dubai to the capital by 2021. 

“We are now at a stage where, from a technological point of view, we could have a Hyperloop One system built in the UAE in the next five years. Our agreement with the RTA is the biggest step yet towards achieving this goal,” explained Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One.

“Imagine stepping out of your villa in Dubai, into a self-driving vehicle that resembles your living room, and arriving just 48 minutes later at your office in Riyadh. That is what Hyperloop One can deliver,” explained Josh Giegel, Hyperloop One’s President of Engineering. Here’s a vision of the start of that journey happening:


Here’s a video that shows how it works…

This photo shows that the pods might be larger than we think…


This photo shows the plans for a station at Burj Khalifa…


And here’s the station at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi:



If a Hyperloop system develops around the world it will change the way we travel says Bjarke Ingels, the founder of BIG, a design firm working on the project:

“Collective commuting with individual freedom at near supersonic speed: we are heading for a future where our mental map of the city is completely reconfigured, as our habitual understanding of distance and proximity – time and space – is warped by this new form of travel.”

 The Hyperloop would likely be a bunch of small pods (rather than one large train) and would be on demand, leaving when you want to leave, and going directly to your chosen station.

The infrastructure will be made up of large tubes that run between destinations, and the pods will hover in these (they’d levitate rather than be on tracks). The environment within the main tube will be controlled so that there will only be a very small amount of air in the environment, creating a suction of sorts, so that the pods move from one end to the other (very, very quickly – kind of like a parcel in a postal shoot). They’re working on plans to run them either underwater or above ground.

Remember the transport pods that will take you from New York to Beijing in just two hours? Or from Abu Dhabi to Dubai in 15 minutes?

The plan shows that Hyperloop One intend to connect the two emirates, which are 150km apart. The map reveals that they are looking into connecting Dubai Airport, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Marina, Al Maktoum Airport, Abu Dhabi Airport and the centre of Abu Dhabi (with offshoots to the major ports too):


Other imagery in the video shows that the Hyperloop will sit on y-shaped stilts, not unlike the Dubai Metro.

Hyperloop One are currently in Dubai for 12 weeks as part of the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme“I want to see a [Hyperloop] in five years. And I feel Dubai is the fastest way to make that happen,” explained Josh Giegel, who is the co-founder of Hyperloop One.

“The momentum is global and accelerating,” explains Hyperloop One CEO Rob Lloyd. “The world will see the test of the first full-scale Hyperloop system in early 2017 at our Test and Safety Site in Las Vegas, and we will have multiple operational Hyperloop systems within five years.”

“We are in a new time now where you can develop a new transportation system in very few years and change the world,” Jakob Lange, partner at BIG Ideas, a design firm that focuses on experimental projects, explained during the clip.


The Hyperloop team presenting to Sheikh Mohammed and Sheikh Hamdan. 

Hyperloop One is partnering with the RTA over the next three months, and by the end of that period they say they’ll be able to show the government that their network will reduce congestion in Dubai by 20 per cent and will reduce emissions by a strong 30 per cent.

How much the project will cost hasn’t yet been announced, but that will definitely be a big part of the feasibility study.

“I love that we’re working on something that’s cutting edge, and that can hopefully improve people’s lives, give them back more free time,” explained James Coutre, director of Product Engineering at Hyperloop.

*The plan for Hyperloop in Dubai Ports*
*The plans for Dubai in 2030*
*More on the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme*



So what is the Dubai Future Accelerators Programme?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai and Vice President of the UAE, said the project is all about “turning government spending into an investment in the future”.

It’s a paid-for-by-Dubai-government initiative that means 30 companies are now in the emirate for three months, working on incubating their forward-thinking ideas with key government departments like the RTA, Dubai Police and DEWA. Dubai Holding has promised an investment of Dhs1 billion into the project.

The companies each have 12 weeks to come up with a business plan or prototype that could work for Dubai, and at the end of the project? The government authorities and investors will have the opportunity to invest to make the project a reality (but they also don’t have to).

Also, this is a big incubator: each company has access to Dhs7.3 million in venture capital for each month of the project.


Sheikh Mohammed trialling some of the other technologies on display as part of the Future Foundation.

“The coming two decades are set to bring about enormous changes that will reshape our world,” H.H. Sheikh Mohammed added. “The global population will exceed eight billion people, two-thirds of whom will live in cities. Demand for food, water, and energy will increase by as much as 40 per cent. The next generation of technology will also reshape the global economic map, as well as drastically alter the way people live their lives. This both poses tremendous challenges and offers extraordinary opportunities.”


Why now, why so much money? Well Dubai Future Accelerators is all about solving seven 21st-century challenges that, when worked through, will mean significant economic and job growth (scroll down to see more about the challenges). The incubating ideas include artificial intelligence and robotics, genomics, 3D printing, distributed ledgers, biomimicry and biotechnology, as well as new business models and ways of working.

“This was not an opportunity we were about to pass up,” explained Hyperloop One of their involvement. “It just fits with our ethos of speed and competitive fire. The program received more than 2,000 applications from 73 countries. Fewer than 2 per cent of applicants were selected. It’s easier to get into Harvard or Stanford.”


“It may sound unusual for a two-year-old startup like us to enter an accelerator,” the Hyperloop One team explained, “We’ve raised more than US$100 million and the team is now surpassing 180 people in three locations. But the Future Accelerators is not your typical accelerator. Honeywell and Huawei are here, too. Members get an immediate partner in the Dubai government with serious access to the highest levels to get things done. There’s up to US$2 million in grants for each member while they’re in the program, and the Dubai Future Foundation that backs the program can tap into the emirate’s Future Endowment Fund worth US$275 million for the finalists in the program.”

Here’s more on their time in Dubai so far…

While it’s the most established Hyperloop company, Hyperloop One doesn’t actually own the rights over the technology: famous inventor Elon Musk first proposed the idea back in 2013, and then made his research public so that others could pursue developing the concept. This means the Hyperloop technology is open source and is currently being pursued by a number of companies and individuals.


TRANSPORT, ROADS & TRANSPORT AUTHORITY: “Prototype automated mass transport and freight delivery systems that cut congestion by half and reduce transport-related CO2 emissions by 50 per cent across all modes.”

SAFETY, DUBAI POLICE: “Test integrated behavioural, genetic and biological systems for identifying, tracking and sharing information on criminals that are 10x more accurate and 10x more efficient, in particular across borders and between jurisdictions.”

BUILDING, DUBAI MUNICIPALITY: “Test automated, recycled, and nature-inspired building materials and solutions that use 3x less energy and CO2 and are 5x more effective (including robotics, automation, bacteriological, mycology, algae, biomimicry, regenerative systems, sand-based 3D printing materials, and others).”

DIAGNOSIS, DUBAI HEALTH AUTHORITY: “Harness Dubai’s remarkable genetic diversity to enhance diagnosis efficiency and accuracy by a factor of 10 using genomics, analytics, telepresence and personalised medicine.”

EDUCATION, KNOWLEDGE AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: “Test 21st century assessment systems and personalized learning solutions that work across curriculums to offer 5x greater flexibility, 2x lower cost, and 10x better learning outcomes with an emphasis on Arabic language education, STEM, coding, and other disciplines.”

SERVICE INDUSTRIES, DUBAI HOLDING: “Deploy digital solutions across hospitality, real estate and telecommunications industries that reduce paperwork by a factor of 10, increase transaction speeds by a factor of 20, and increase customer satisfaction by an order of magnitude Blockchain, digital personalisation, etc.”

ENERGY, DEWA: “Reduce water and energy consumption by 10x and increase production and distribution efficiencies through the use of renewable, intelligent, automated, biological or other means.”

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