First phase of UAE hyperloop on track for 2020

File photo showing Journalists and guests looking over tubes following a propulsion open-air test at Hyperloop One in North Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. in 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2019

First phase of UAE hyperloop on track for 2020

LONDON: Phase one of the world’s first commercial hyperloop system will be ready next year, says the boss of the company building the new transport system in the UAE. 

Bibop Gresta, chairman of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said the first 10 km out of a 150 km stretch linking Abu Dhabi to Dubai and Al Ain will be completed in 2020 at a cost of $20 million to $40 million per kilometer.

The total cost of the 150 km system between Abu Dhabi and Dubai — the first of its kind in the world — is estimated to be between $3 billion and $6 billion but Gresta said it would recoup its costs within eight to 15 years.

He revealed the Abu Dhabi hyperloop capsule has already left Spain, where it was built, and is due to start tests in Toulouse, France on a prototype track.

Under an agreement signed last April with Aldar Properties of Abu Dhabi, Hyperloop will operate the rail system and construct a commercial center, research and development center, a visitor center and “innovation hub” on the Seih Al-Sdeirah landbank on the border between Abu Dhabi and Dubai emirates, close to both Al-Maktoum International Airport and the Expo 2020 site.

“It was a far-fetched dream but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020,” Gresta told WAM, the official news agency of the UAE. “Basically, the Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system is right now past the feasibility study.”

The hyperloop consists of a pod propelled by electro-magnetic levitation at speeds of up to 1,123 km per hour, potentially reducing the traveling time between the two emirates to mere minutes. 

Gresta insisted the system would become profitable quickly as it is simpler and lighter in design and uses less energy than conventional types of mass transport. 

“It presents the ability to build a mass transit system that would not require government subsidies,” he said. “In regions where road and railway infrastructure is scarce, hyperloop can be a leap over 20th century technology directly into the 21st century. In regions with developed infrastructure, hyperloop can easily integrate and complement current and future road and rail networks.”

There are three hyperloop test tracks in the world — two in the US and one in Europe.

However a transport expert cast doubt on the timescale and warned the hyperloop could be sent into operation too soon.

“It’s the UAE, where they had the first drone police bike, the first drone taxi and every hyper car that exists,” said Stanford Ellis, publisher and editor of the website Transport Monthly. 

“The hyperloop is quite viable as long as it’s done properly, but the UAE might push it along.”


NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

Updated 27 February 2020

NMC Health removes CEO amid investigation of UAE firm’s finances

  • Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat was dismissed with immediate effect
  • Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis was appointed as interim CEO

NMC Health has removed Chief Executive Prasanth Manghat with immediate effect and granted its finance chief extended sick leave, as more details emerge from an investigation into the UAE health care firm’s finances.
Abu-Dhabi based NMC said after Wednesday’s market close that it had appointed Chief Operating Officer Michael Davis as interim CEO to succeed Manghat and said Chief Financial Officer Prashanth Shenoy had been placed on longer leave.
Manghat had been with NMC for about 10 years in various roles, including deputy CEO and CFO, and had seen the company through its 2012 listing on the London Stock Exchange.
The moves are the latest blow for the firm whose shares have lost about two thirds of their value since US-based short-seller Muddy Waters late last year questioned its financial statements.
NMC had said at the time that the report was “false and misleading,” but had opened its own investigation into company finances. The review is being led by Louis Freeh, who was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States from 1993 to mid-2001.
NMC on Wednesday said the investigation committee had identified supply chain financing arrangements that were entered into by the company and “which are understood to have been used” by entities controlled by founder BR Shetty and former vice-chair Khaleefa Butti Omair Yousif Ahmed Al Muhairi.
Reuters was unable to reach Manghat, Shetty and Muhairi for comment outside business hours on NMC’s latest statement.
The company, which operates clinics and hospitals, specialized maternity and fertility clinics, and long-term care homes in 19 countries, said the committee was reviewing a drawdown of its facilities that had not been disclosed or approved by the board.
Its shares closed 6.6% higher before Wednesday’s statement.
NMC also said it had suspended a member of its treasury team over possible discrepancies in its bank statements and ledger entries, and said it would be unable to publish its annual results till at least the end of April.
Indian billionaire Shetty resigned as NMC’s co-chairman this month, after British regulators said they were looking into NMC following a disclosure that he had misstated the size of his stake.
Shetty had said this month that his NMC shareholdings were under a legal review looking into a large portion of his shares signed to two of NMC’s top investors in 2017, while some of his other stock had been pledged as security against loans.