Saudi Arabia, Virgin Hyperloop One to conduct world’s first national hyperloop study

Officials witness the signing of an MoU in Riyadh. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh.)
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Updated 09 February 2020

Saudi Arabia, Virgin Hyperloop One to conduct world’s first national hyperloop study

  • It will examine viable routes, expected demand, explore socioeconomic impact

RIYADH: A groundbreaking study will be conducted to build the world’s longest hyperloop track,  the Ministry of Transport announced on Thursday.

It said an agreement with Virgin Hyperloop One (VHO), the world’s leading hyperloop company, would see a groundbreaking pre-feasibility study conducted on the use of hyperloop technology, laying the groundwork for a network of routes across Saudi Arabia.

The study is the first to be carried out anywhere in the world and will examine viable routes, expected demand, anticipated costs and explore the socioeconomic impact, such as the creation of jobs and environmental effects.

Speaking to Arab News, Harj Dhaliwal, VHO’s managing director for the Middle East, who signed the agreement with Khaled Al-Romaih, deputy minister for planning and information at the Ministry of Transport, said: “This is the first step, we want to create a solid foundation. The agreement with the ministry brings us one step closer to the realization of our vision for a connected Saudi Arabia and a connected Gulf.

“We have a vision for the Kingdom, and that vision is of connecting it and the Gulf with the ability to travel from Riyadh to Jeddah in 46 minutes, to Neom from Jeddah in 40 minutes, from Riyadh to Dammam and Jubail in 28 minutes, and to go beyond the Kingdom, from Riyadh to Abu Dhabi, in 48 minutes.      

“It’s not just about providing a future transportation system, it’s the ecosystem behind it. What we want to do is to be able to bring technology to the Kingdom to be able to share and develop that knowledge. We signed an agreement with King Abdullah Economic City in October last year specifically to look at manufacturing, how we can actually bring technology, and that is expected to create about 124,000 jobs.”

Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser said: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has outlined the role of transport in shaping the future of the Kingdom’s economy within Vision 2030. As we enter a new decade, we intend to make rapid progress in building the infrastructure required to define mobility for the future, enabling the efficient movement of people and goods. With the transformative hyperloop technology, Saudi Arabia will not only unlock unparalleled benefits for its people and the economy but will continue to lead the region into an era of prosperity.”

Technology would play a pivotal role in the progress and transformation of the Saudi economy, added VHO Chairman Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.

Jay Walder, CEO of Virgin Hyperloop One, said: “The economic potential is enormous to connect passengers and cargo at unprecedented speeds with zero direct emissions. The system would be up to 10 times more energy efficient than short haul flights and 50 percent more efficient than high-speed trains. In fact, a hyperloop in the region could be powered entirely by solar panels which cover the tube, making the technology hugely attractive to the sun-abundant Kingdom.”

Konrad Pesendorfer, president of the Saudi General Statistical Authority

Updated 21 min 15 sec ago

Konrad Pesendorfer, president of the Saudi General Statistical Authority

Konrad Pesendorfer is the newly appointed president of the General Statistical Authority (GaSat), the national statistical institute of Saudi Arabia.

Chaired by Mohammed Al-Jadaan, minister of finance and acting minister of economy and planning, GaSat’s board of directors appointed Pesendorfer as president after he served as acting president since last January.

Pesendorfer is one of the world’s prominent experts in managing statistical organizations. He will be working alongside GaSat’s team to improve and oversee statistical work and to achieve GaSat’s transformation goals by turning it into a world-class statistical authority.

Pesendorfer attained his master’s degree in economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business in 1995 and his Ph.D. in economics and business administration from the same university in 2002. 

He worked as director general of Statistics Austria from January 2010 to December 2019 and was responsible for all statistical matters and international affairs.

Pesendorfer represented Austria in the European Statistical System Committee, the top decision-making body of the European statistical system.

He also served as chairman of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Committee on Statistics and Statistical Policy between January 2016 and December 2019.

Together with the chief statistician of India, he was co-chairman of the International Comparison Program governing board of the UN/World Bank from November 2016 to December 2019, set up to calculate worldwide purchasing power parities.

Pesendorfer was also member of the Austrian Fiscal Council between November 2013 and December 2019, assessing and advising the government on fiscal policy issues. Between 2017 and 2019, he served as president of the Austrian Statistical Society.