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.”

Marwan Al-Sulaimani, director general at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Jeddah

Updated 52 min 25 sec ago

Marwan Al-Sulaimani, director general at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Jeddah

Marwan Al-Sulaimani has been the director general at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Jeddah since April 2017.

The Saudi Smart Cities Summit and Expo was launched in Jeddah on Wednesday. Al-Sulaimani said that smart technology is being adopted to help pilgrims at all stages of their religious journey in Saudi Arabia.

“Technological advances will smooth pilgrims’ progress from the moment they arrive in the Kingdom until they gather at Mount Arafat,” he said.

The two-day summit highlighted the role of sustainable technologies in “Smart Makkah,” an ambitious plan to incorporate advanced tech in many of the country’s major cities.

Al-Sulaimani obtained his master’s degree in strategic management in 2007 from Maastrich School of Management in the Netherlands.

He started his career in 1996 as a sales administration manager in Tera Pak in Jeddah until 2006, before moving to Toyota — Abulatif Jameel Co. — in 2007 to serve as the director of supply chain and director of sales marketing (SUV, commercial vehicles) until 2012.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah hopes to increase the annual number of pilgrims to 15 million by 2022 and 30 million by 2030 in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Al-Sulaimani said that the ministry was working with all stakeholders to ease pilgrims’ experience and improve services every year. His Twitter handle  is: @sulaimanimh1.