$ 745 m tramway drives Morocco to new heights

$ 745 m tramway drives Morocco to new heights
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$ 745 m tramway drives Morocco to new heights
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Updated 19 December 2012

$ 745 m tramway drives Morocco to new heights

$ 745 m tramway drives Morocco to new heights

The sprawling ocean-side city of Casablanca, Morocco’s commercial capital, became more elegant recently when it got a most modern tramway.
The $ 745 million tramway was opened by King Mohammed VI in the presence of hundreds of thousands of joyful residents.
The project enhances the city’s landscapes and ambience. In addition, it reduces traffic jams, and air and sound pollution.
Road congestions are a regular feature of Morocco’s sixth biggest city in the entire continent of Africa with 5 million residents.
Operating on Alstom Citadis wagons, the first line of Casablanca tramway crosses the city from the east to the west with a 31 km itinerary and 48 stations. Each 65-meter long tramway is composed of coupled wagons. It has a capacity of transporting 606 travelers with 105 seating places. With a pool of 37 coupled tramways, Casablanca Tramway is estimated to transport 250,000 travelers per day by 2015.
The tramway has been constructed to connect the different city districts and open up its suburbs. Line 1 will provide access to the universities, the Casa Voyageurs ONCF station, the historic center and business districts.
Casablanca Tramway is a real engine to the city creating new city dynamic and servicing business areas, public services, trades, tourism and entertainment centers through a means of transportation that is fast, efficient and environment-friendly. The project brings real solutions to the lack of public transportation services as it operates in the suburbs and the city center.
“The main objective is to upgrade Casablanca to the level of worldwide metropolis, endowed with a modern identity, proud of its heritage and strengthening social cohesion,” says Khalid Rahmani, managing director of CasaTram.
The social aspect is a dominant feature in the project.
The tramway is, in fact, a unifying component of the city connecting various neighborhoods from Sidi Moumen suburb to Ain Diab coast, the city center, and main educational facilities, business areas and train stations.
The project has been established with great attention to Casablanca vegetal heritage. More than 4,000 trees have been planted along a 31 km green corridor.
The opening ceremony was a festive celebration for Casablanca inhabitants. In addition to King Mohammed VI, the event was held in the presence of Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Mohamed Bousaid, Wali for the Casablanca region, Mohamed Sajid, mayor of Casablanca, Youssef Draiss, Casa Transports’ managing director, Pierre Mongin, RATP chairman and chief executive, and Patrick Kron, Alstom chairman and chief executive.
Youssef Draiss, general director of Casablanca Transport, told Arab News that the cost of the project is 5.9 billion Moroccan dirhams ($ 745 million).
“The tramway runs on electricity and thus diminishes the air pollution. It will also decrease traffic jams and sound pollution,” he added.
In 2009, Casa Transports — the public sector company tasked with public transport in Casablanca — awarded a contract to Alstom to provide 74 Citadis tramway trains. Two further contracts were signed with Alstom in 2010 to install signaling systems and supply electricity for the line.
“We are leaders in the tramway market, with already 1,600 Citadis tram sets sold to over 40 cities worldwide,” Loic Dubois, tramway strategy manager at Alstom Transport told Arab News on the sidelines of the opening ceremony.
“The Citadis versions designed for Casablanca feature twelve side doors and an integral lowered floor to ensure easy access and more fluid passenger movement,” Dubois added.
“The Citadis design has been customized in line with the city’s architectural style and features a rounded, regular form from end to end. Its metallic red livery contrasts with the brightness of the city. Inside, the patterns and tones are inspired by Moroccan style. Air conditioning, large tinted windows and information displays in Arabic and French have all been designed to ensure optimal traveling conditions,” Dubois added.
Citadis is designed by renowned designer Xavier Allard who currently works with Alstom as VP design and styling.
Traffic will be managed at the Central Command Center located at the operations and maintenance center (CEM), one of the largest in the world (7 hectares in surface area), in Sidi Moumen at the eastern end of the line. With the launch of the project, it will operate with 37 tramways 65 meters long, but has provision for expanding its capacity to 50 tramways.
Through the Casa Tram consortium, RATP Dev will be responsible for operating and maintaining the first tramway line for a period of 5 years.
Alstom, which has strong presence and offices in the Gulf and elsewhere in the Middle East, is one of the world leaders in electricity generation and transmission infrastructure and in rail transport. It builds the fastest trains in the world and automatic metros boasting the highest capacity.
The construction of Casablanca Tramway has generated over 3,000 direct and indirect jobs.
The operations employ 600 people, of whom 400 are dedicated to all security aspects.


Saudi Arabia’s biggest gym chain swings to loss

Saudi Arabia’s biggest gym chain swings to loss
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s biggest gym chain swings to loss

Saudi Arabia’s biggest gym chain swings to loss
  • Operates 135 gyms in UAE and KSA
  • Pandemic has hit fitness sector hard

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s biggest gym chain swung to a first quarter loss as the pandemic forced the closure of thousands of fitness clubs worldwide.
Leejam Sports Company reported a net loss of more than SR6.9 million in the first quarter compared to a profit of SR6.2 million a year earlier, it said in filing to the Tadawul stock exchange where its shares are listed.
Overall revenues dipped by about a quarter over the period to SR148.5 million, it said.
Total gym memberships, personal training revenues and rental income fell by more than SR49 million as a result of gym closures in the Kingdom from Feb.5, 2021 to March 6, 2021, it said.
Meanwhile the need to apply precautionary measures in response to the pandemic reduced the number of members joining the clubs.
Leejam operates some 135 Fitness Time centers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


‘Many more airlines will go under’ Qatar Airways boss tells CNN

‘Many more airlines will go under’ Qatar Airways boss tells CNN
Updated 20 April 2021

‘Many more airlines will go under’ Qatar Airways boss tells CNN

‘Many more airlines will go under’ Qatar Airways boss tells CNN
  • Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker gave a bleak assessment of the challenges facing the industry as it struggles to recover the collapse in global air travel

DUBAI: Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker has warned that many more airlines will be forced out of business by the pandemic.
In an exclusive interview on CNN’s Quest Means Business, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al-Baker gave a bleak assessment of the challenges facing the industry as it struggles to recover the collapse in global air travel.
“By the time this pandemic is over, there will only be few airlines that are strong and will continue operating,” he said. “A lot of other airlines will go under. And this will continue to happen, because we have not seen the worst of it over yet.”
He said that returning the airline industry to full strength should be a key priority to boost the global economic outlook.


“If this pandemic prolongs for too long, this will completely destroy the world’s economy which is so dependent on airlines for delivering business, carrying freight around, and most importantly creating jobs,” he said.
The outspoken airline chief highlighted some of the safety measures adopted by the airline and its hub at Hamad International Airport in Doha.
These include high-tech temperature sensors, ultraviolet disinfectant processes, and mask-wearing on flights.
He also spoke about the process of asking the company’s shareholders – the Qatari government – for a cash injection during the pandemic, “I couldn’t just jump the queue and go and tell my boss, the ruler of my country, that our situation is so dire, and this is what we need. Because I am sure there were a lot of other people in the queue before me telling him the same thing.”

The CEO also spoke about access to vaccinations and mitigating the risks amid the slow roll out of vaccines in some countries. He told Quest, “It will be a problem for the aviation industry. And we will have to work a way within this risks that we will have to take. But we will have to do things, we'll have to put processes, we'll have to put systems in place to mitigate that risk.” A resurgence of the coronavirus in many countries in recent weeks is threatening to quash some positive signs that had been slowly emerging from the sector. At the same time many passengers are reluctant to fly even where permitted, because of safety concerns and confusion over the different vaccination, testing and quarantine requirements of different countries. Industry body IATA has been trying to address that challenge with its trial Travel Pass initiative aimed at informing passengers about what tests, vaccines and other measures they require at their destinations.

Eni helps UAE emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah look for natural gas

Eni helps UAE emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah look for natural gas
Updated 20 April 2021

Eni helps UAE emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah look for natural gas

Eni helps UAE emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah look for natural gas
  • Eni is already present in Ras Al-Khaimah operating Offshore Block A

DUBAI: Italian energy giant Eni is helping the UAE's northernmost emirate explore for gas.

Its Eni RAK unit has struck an exploration and production agreement with Ras Al-Khaimah Petroleum Authority, the Italian company said in a statement.
The agreement relates to "Block 7" which covers an area of 430 square kilometers. Eni RAK will act as operator of the block with a 90 percent participating interest and Ras Al Khaimah’s national oil company RAK Gas as a partner, with a 10 percent stake.
"Block 7 represents an under-explored acreage in a complex thrust belt geological setting, similar to that of the recent discovery of Mahani in the adjacent Sharjah Emirate," Eni said in a statement.
"The newly acquired 3D seismic will allow the joint venture to assess the geological setting of the area and eventually unlock its hydrocarbon potential. The presence of the existing gas processing facilities in the emirate would also allow a rapid development of any discoveries."
Eni has been involved in a number of gas finds in the Middle East in recent years, most notably in Egypt and the Eastern Mediterranean where the discoveries have ushered in dramatic economic transformations.
Eni is already present  in Ras Al-Khaimah operating Offshore Block A where, after an initial geological and geophysical study period, preparations for drilling operations have started, it said.
The company holds the largest exploration acreage among the international oil companies present in the UAE covering more than 26,000  square kilometers.


UAE extends key parts of $13.6bn economic support plan until mid-2022

UAE extends key parts of $13.6bn economic support plan until mid-2022
Updated 20 April 2021

UAE extends key parts of $13.6bn economic support plan until mid-2022

UAE extends key parts of $13.6bn economic support plan until mid-2022
  • Move will help banks offer new loans
  • Part of wider response to pandemic

The UAE Central Bank has extended key parts of its 50 billion dirams ($13.6 billion) economic support plan until mid-2022.
Under this extension, financial institutions will still be able to benefit from a zero-cost liquidity facility covered by a guarantee of 50 billion dirhams until June 30, 2022, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
The extension decision enables banks to provide new loans and financing to individual clients, small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and other private sector companies affected by the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The extension of the targeted economic support plan will provide continuous support from the financial system for the sectors adversely affected by the pandemic,” said Governor Khalid Al-Tameemi.
“This comes as part of support for the recovery phase, in line with the Emirates Central Bank’s mandate to ensure Financial and monetary stability in the Emirates,” he explained.
The Targeted Economic Support Plan is a comprehensive program that covers all measures taken by the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates in response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Saudi Arabia reduces US bonds holdings by 27.9% in 2021

Saudi Arabia reduces US bonds holdings by 27.9% in 2021
Updated 20 April 2021

Saudi Arabia reduces US bonds holdings by 27.9% in 2021

Saudi Arabia reduces US bonds holdings by 27.9% in 2021
  • Saudi Arabia’s investments in US Treasury bonds included $105.98 billion in “long-term bonds”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reduced its holdings of US Treasury bonds to $132.9 billion by the end of February, down by $2.2 billion on a monthly basis, Okaz newspaper reported.
Saudi Arabia has reduced its holdings by 27.93 percent during the last 12 months to $132.9 billion by the end of February of this year.
The Kingdom maintained its 14th position among the largest holders of US bonds in February 2021.
Saudi Arabia’s investments in US Treasury bonds included $105.98 billion in “long-term bonds,” representing 80 percent of the total, and $26.92 billion in “short-term bonds,” accounting for 20 percent of the total.