Saudi Arabia to build world’s first long-range hyperloop test track

Sir Richard Branson, CEO of the Virgin group, speaks in Dubai on April 29, 2018, during the unveiling of the DP World CargoSpeed a partnership to build a hyperloop system for cargo in the UAE. (File/AFP)
Updated 24 July 2019

Saudi Arabia to build world’s first long-range hyperloop test track

  • The hyperloop technology is expected to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf
  • It will create opportunities for the development of specific hyperloop technologies and develop local expertise in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: A study will be conducted to build the world’s longest test and certification hyperloop track in Saudi Arabia, American transportation technology company, Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), announced on Tuesday.

A 35-kilometer test and certification track will be built 100 kilometers north of the Red Sea port of Jeddah, in King Abdullah Economic City.

The project, which will include a research center and a hyperloop manufacturing facility, will be in partnership with the Kingdom’s Economic City Authority (ECA). It will facilitate the development of localized hyperloop supply chains and the acceleration of innovation clusters across the Kingdom.

The hyperloop technology is expected to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf.

Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah would be reduced from 10 hours to 76 minutes, a statement from VHO said. While travel from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi in the UAE would be shortened to 48 minutes from 8.5 hours.

The announcement stated that the partnership will create opportunities for the development of specific hyperloop technologies and develop local expertise in Saudi Arabia which be commercialized and scaled.

“As we continue to help deliver the strategic pillars of Vision 2030,” Secretary-General of the ECA, Mohanud A. Helal, said during his visit to the VHO headquarters in Los Angeles.

“Having hyperloop at King Abdullah Economic City is going to act as a catalyst for a Saudi Silicon Valley effect and galvanize our software development, high technology research, and manufacturing industries,” Helal added.

Last year, the CEO of Virgin group, Sir Richard Branson, was in Dubai to unveil the DP World CargoSpeed, which aims to build a hyperloop system for cargo in the UAE. 


Automechanika Riyadh opens, featuring leading global suppliers

Updated 25 February 2020

Automechanika Riyadh opens, featuring leading global suppliers

  • Saudi auto deals grew 40 percent last year with influx of female buyers

RIYADH: Leading names in the global auto services industry are out in force at Automechanika Riyadh — which opened on Monday at Al Faisaliah Hotel — vying to increase their share of a growing market expected to reach a value of $10.15 billion by 2023.

Automechanika Riyadh is the regional arm of the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organizer, Messe Frankfurt, which has licensed the Automechanika brand to event organizer Al Harithy Company for Exhibitions (ACE) Group.

Mansour Abdullah Al-Shathri, vice chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, inaugurated the trade event, which will run from Feb. 24-26.

It was revealed that Saudi auto deals grew approximately 40 percent last year, with female buyers accounting for between 10-15 percent of sales after the landmark decision to allow women to drive in the Kingdom for the first time.  

“International suppliers are stepping up their marketing for the resurgence in Saudi’s market, and this impacts the entire supply chain,” said Mahmut Gazi Bilikozen, show director for Automechanika Riyadh.

“While there is growth potential in the market, it is becoming a more competitive landscape and one which will also have to contend with evolving customer preferences. The conditions are ripe for new business relationships for those wishing to succeed in this transformative environment,” he added.

Zahoor Siddique, vice president of ACE, said: “Future vehicles will become more complex and challenging for the aftermarket industry. It is therefore imperative for manufacturers, local garages, technicians and mechanics to upskill and remain above the curve. 

 “Automechanika Riyadh is one such platform that can enable us to share and learn what the industry needs to unleash its potential.”

Two major US players — disc pad producer Giant Manufacturing and United Motors Mopar, the Kingdom’s sole distributor of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat cars — forecast a bullish market over the next few years.

Giant’s vice president, Eli Youssian, said he believed car sales in the Kingdom would grow by 9 percent annually until 2025, while United Motors District CEO Hassan Elshamarani expected another three million female drivers to be on the Kingdom’s roads by the end of the year.

Both Giant and United Motors launched new products at the show, with the former rolling out its new German-engineered Euro Premium Metallic Disc brake pads, and the latter introducing its Magneti Marelli spare parts.

The high potential of the new-look Saudi automotive landscape has also struck a major chord with South Korean suppliers.

The show’s Korean pavilion is hosting new-to-market entrants and existing suppliers all looking for business partners. With products from wiper blades to filters and air-conditioning parts to brake pads, the Korean contingent was positive about the Kingdom’s prospects.

One exhibitor, D Only Automotive, is looking to ring fence 10 percent of the Saudi brake market. “With more vehicles on the road, demand for brakes will increase, (so) we believe this is possible,” said President Jeon JaeWon.

Global research and analytics firm Aranca — Automechanika’s knowledge partner — has forecast that Saudi Arabia’s automotive spare parts and service market will grow at approximately 6 percent over the next five years to reach a value of $10.15 billion by 2023.

“The spare parts and service market for passenger cars alone is expected to eclipse $6.9 billion by 2023,” said Vishal Sanghavi, Aranca’s automotive practice head.