Saudi Arabia, Virgin Hyperloop And The Future Of Travel In The Middle East
While the reality of futuristic travel might well be lagging a little behind what we were told in sci-fi movies of the 1980s and ’90s (seriously, where are the flying cars?) you can’t deny that the news of Virgin Hyperloop One test track agreement with Saudi Arabia is another step in the right direction.
All part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the agreement includes conducting a feasibility study for a new 35km track in Saudi Arabia along with a research and development facility and manufacturing plant.
The concept uses a pressurised pod with a vehicle that generates speeds up to three times faster than current railway systems. Similar to the Hyperloop that will connect Dubai to Abu Dhabi in just 12 minutes at speeds of 1,080 km per hour, Saudi has now signed a contract to pave the way for a Hyperloop system that would reduce the Riyadh to Jeddah journey to 76 minutes from the current 10 hours.
While some remain sceptical that hyperloop travel can ever become a reality, Mohanaud A Helal, Secretary General of the Economic City Authority hoped it would become a “catalyst for a Saudi Silicon Valley effect. Our partnership with VHO is a matter of pride for us and all of Saudi Arabia.”
Meanwhile, Bibop Gresta, Chairmain of Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, said about the UAE project, “It was a far-fetched dream, but we are all excited now that it’s a dream coming true in the UAE in 2020. Basically, the Abu Dhabi Hyperloop system is right now past the feasibility study. We have already completed the study after we partnered with Aldar Properties last year. It will be the first commercial Hyperloop line in the world.”
Virgin has previously outlined plans in the Middle East for a connecting network of the largest urban centres, Kuwait City, Muscat and Jeddah.