JEDDAH: A hyperloop in Saudi Arabia could add $4 billion to the country’s gross domestic product and create 124,000 jobs by 2030, according to the results of a new study.
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 (KAEC) by US tech transport company Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), which commissioned the study.
The study said that a Center of Excellence, if approved, would drive domestic growth by adding to the creation of more than 124,000 high-tech local jobs, supporting the technology sector by incorporating advances in robotics and ArtificiaI Intelligence, and driving an estimated $4 billion increase in Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030.
The hyperloop technology is expected to reduce journey times across Saudi Arabia and throughout the Gulf.
The journey from Riyadh to Jeddah would be reduced from 10 hours to 76 minutes, VHO said earlier this year, while travel from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi would be shortened to 48 minutes from 8.5 hours.
Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem, who is group chairman and CEO of DP World and chairman of VHO, said: “The study highlights that hyperloop is more than high-speed connectivity for passengers and cargo. The findings have shown a positive alignment between the project and Saudi Arabia’s ambitious national economic and social development agenda. With this in mind, we are delighted to highlight this vision at the Future Investment Initiative and continue our talks with a multitude of stakeholders.”
The VHO Center of Excellence could break ground in KAEC in 2020 and include an integrated test track, as well as explore the feasibility of creating a manufacturing center and operating facility that would propel the Kingdom to the forefront of hyperloop development worldwide.
“This strategic partnership in Saudi Arabia is a result of a shared ambition to harness the power of technology to drive the next leap forward in transportation,” said Jay Walder, CEO of VHO.
“It’s a market that has shown a readiness to embrace transformative innovation to achieve the goal of sustainable, energy efficient travel that will have a huge impact on the economy and wider society. This study sets the framework for the advancement of Virgin Hyperloop One’s system, and the creation of a new and unique ecosystem; creating jobs, supporting development and connecting people across the Kingdom.”
Saudi Arabia had set out a clear strategy for economic diversification and development through its Vision 2030 reform plan, said Ahmed Linjawy, GCEO of KAEC, and attracting world-class technology companies like VHO was an important indicator of momentum.
“Establishing a center of excellence will drive job creation, connect our cities and people while stimulating R&D and tech investment that will be the foundation of our future economy.”
KAEC was establishing itself as a “strategic location of choice” for companies seeking to expand into Saudi Arabia and the wider region, already attracting more than 118 leading local and international companies, he added.