090909 - day of the Dubai Metro

Arabian Business brings you all the news updates as they happened from this historic event.

00:05: Our Sheikh Mohammed picture gallery is now live and we've also posted a video of proceedings. Enjoy! Our live service is now over.

23:30 SB: That's all folks. Everyone is leaving and there is no shortage of taxis outside! We hope you've enjoyed our live coverage. Keep logging on as we will be publishing photos of Sheikh Mohammed from tonight's historic event in the next 30 minutes.

23:20 SB: Press conference is over. Am looking around for people to talk to. Will report back soon.

23:06: TV reports Sheikh Mohammed saying that life is full of challenges, "we love challenges and we like to rise to challenges and we like to beat challenges", referring to the efforts made in completing the Dubai Metro in just four years.

23:00 SB:
The first story from the press conference is now live.

22:40 SB: The press conference is just starting. Check out details in our separate story to be published soon. Before we leave this blog, however, I should say that Al Tayer has thanked the media for its coverage of the metro project. My pleasure...

22:36: "Final stop on the metro and heading towards the press conference to meet with international media." - the latest Tweet from Sheikh Mohammed.

22:30: Journalists behaving badly. Cameramen are jumping all over the place trying to get the best shot. No etiquette here. We've been told to go sit down for the press conference but no one seems to be paying much notice. I feel like a teenage girl whose about to see the Backstreet Boys! It's chaos here. Quote of the day so far - "Media, please!"

Sheikh Mohammed arrives at Al Rashidiya Station. Over to you Soren...

22:15 SB: One journalist gets shirty when someone leaves stuff on their chair. Dubai journalists find it hard to cope when there's no buffet available.

22:12: While AW completes his historic journey, Sheikh Mohammed is still on his, having just arrived at the Terminal 3 station. Fireworks can be seen around Dubai.

22:10 AW: We’re pulling into our destination now, and the ride is almost over. It has been exhilarating. There’s no doubt that travelling by train can give you a whole new perspective on a city. Out of all the stations I've seen on my journey, Internet City and Nakheel looked the least ready and I doubt will open before February. That said it has been exhilarating.

It’s not just the elevated view, and it’s not just the speed of travel, but there is something about it that gives a fresh twist to the familiar.

Plenty of people will take the train over the coming days and weeks, if only for the novelty value. But will people come back, time and time again? I hope so.

The Metro is already a part of Dubai; we’ve grown used to it as it has grown over our heads and under our feet over the last three and a half years. The metro has brought a stamp of technological sophistication to the city; now we just need to take that next step and make it an active part of our everyday lives.

We’ve disembarked now and people are filtering off into the night, chatting excitedly about their experience. I’ve got to get home. Taxi?

22:05 AW: A terrifying thought has just occurred. If we’re late for any reason, or if there’s a delay or if the driverless train decides to go on strike halfway through the journey, then there’s a very real chance I’ll miss England’s World Cup qualifier against Croatia later on tonight. Never, ever, have I been more dependent on a train getting me where I need to be on time.

I look out at the traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road. It’s not too heavy, but we’re definitely outstripping all those Toyota Corollas and Nissan Tiidas. Then, just as I’m feeling a little smug, a bright yellow Ferrari comes out of nowhere and belts past us. Oh well, can’t beat ‘em all.

DIFC Metro Station is approaching to the right of the tracks. Is there time for one last bad train joke? I think so.

Q: Why is it not safe to doze on trains? A: Because they run over sleepers! I swear that’s the last one...

22:00 AW: The Metro’s already been likened to a rollercoaster because of the ups and downs of the track, but riding it you’d never think so.

It’s so smooth, and the inclines are so gradual that you could balance a glass of water on your palm without it spilling. If food and drink were allowed on, that is. Eating and drinking on board is a byelaw offence: woe betide the man or woman who litters these shiny new trains.

By February next year there will be 29 stations open on the Red Line , 24 elevated, four underground and one at street level. But we’re approaching Mall of the Emirates Metro Station now, so it must be time for another bad train joke.

Q: What's the difference between a teacher and a conductor on a railroad? A: One trains the mind, the other minds the train! Oh dear, oh dear...

I was on a tube train in London just last week. Somewhere between the two stations the train in front broke down and so we spent over an hour stuck in a tunnel with no air conditioning, pressed against each other like a tin of sweating sardines.

This is slightly different; a good deal more civilised. I wonder how sweaty it might get with the sun beating down on us, though?

21:58 AW:
We’ve stopped! Only moved 50 yards. Ahh, no worries, we are told the driver (didn’t know there was one) has to get off. All very confusing, who cares we are off again! And you what, it feels pretty fast! I think we are doing 100km/h, not sure. Fast, definitely fast.

A cheer goes up and Dubai begins a new chapter in its development. There is a quiet hum from the engines as we begin to pick up speed. Very pleasant; I can imagine myself getting stuck into a good book without too much distraction – essential for the regular commuter.

We’re barrelling along at quite a pace now, Sheikh Zayed Road whizzing by to our left, and a vast expanse of desert to our right (part of Dubailand, I think)., I’m told, but on the Red Line the average speed is 44kph. On the Green line, the average will be 32kph. I’m sure its 100kph.

21:57 AW: Hats off to Etisalat or/and Du. Wi-fi is clearly working well, everyone around me has managed to email their pix home in the last few minutes. Actually I’m starting to worry that I have accidentally stumbled into a geeks' convention train.

Meridith and Yousef, who are next to me, have launched their own website myDubaiMetro.com to chronicle travellers’ tales.

More facts anyone? The Dubai Metro will eventually become the world's longest driverless train system, with more than 70km (43 miles) of track. Never mind all that, suddenly we are moving... ahead of schedule!

TV shows Sheikh Mohammed signing a document to go into a time capsule to celebrate the opening of the metro.

21:52 SB: Looks like some important is arriving... and they're not arriving by bus!

21:45 AW:
Around 20 minutes to go here before the first "public" train gets moving. I've been mingling with many of the Golden Ticket winners and boy do they seem pleased. Nannette Midwood, a UK expat standing next to me explains: "It's a long walk through the station but that's what I like about it. It's actually nice to have somewhere to walk in Dubai that's not a Mall!"

I couldn't agree more...

21:42 AB:
Ok folks I think that's it from me, I'm off to erm, rather embarrassingly, look for a cab! I'll leave you with Andy and Soren (Ps Andy don't worry I'll text you the England v Croatia score...)

21:42: Sheikh Mohammed arrives at Khalid bin Waleed Station. Let's see those chandeliers we've read about earlier today. HH and others have been treated to a laser show before moving on to the next station.

21:35 AW:
Well Anil, think you’re so smart. What happened to actually getting on the train?! Don’t worry folks, you can count on me at least!

I have to say things are really hotting up here. Close to 800 people have turned up, and unlike the fancy launch that Anil was covering, this is full of the ordinary folk who have won tickets to ride the first “public” train.

We’re getting pictures done, everyone is waving their tickets and there is a true carnival atmosphere building up. (Oh and yes, someone has already been told off for taking a drink onto the train). We are expected to begin our own historic journey around 10pm.

Some facts and figures for the serious trainspotters... Each five-car train holds up to 897 commuters, although it has structural design for up to 1,150 passengers. There are 142 seats per train, and there are three ‘classes’ of carriage. These are Women & Children, Gold, and Silver.

Women & Children is a special car for with more space to allow strollers and bags and 12 seats and three flip-up chairs. Gold is more spacious with a higher level of privacy, more luggage space and leather seating.

It boasts 18 deluxe seats situated at the front of the train. Silver, meanwhile, is the standard class and has 25 to 27 seats.

21:31: "On the metro and the ride is very smooth and quiet" - latest Tweet from HH.

21:30: Local TV shows Sheikh Mohammed visiting the station at DIFC (Financial Centre) before continuing on his journey down the track to Rashidiya.

21:26 AB: Well well well what can I say! That was quite something. After the expected chaos, HH and what seemed to be 200 officials all got on the first train. There were so many of them that even for HH it was standing room only! The first official train has now left Mall of the Emirates and headed to DIFC and then down to Rashidiya Station where a press conference is being held.

Quick word on the inside of the Mall of Emirates Station - fab, just fab. Better then anything I've seen anywhere in the world. The sliding platform doors are built to match the Metro train doors, giving extra safety. The roof of the station looks super cool, I am sure it will win tonnes of design awards.

My colleagues Andrew and Soren are at Rashidiya and Nakheel Harbour, and I think both will actually be getting inside the train (unlike me) so I am sure will have more details as the evening unfolds. Oh, and where are those fireworks everyone was going on about on Twitter??!

21:25 SB: A colleague from Arabian Business Arabic tells me it looks like you need a PhD in Maths to be able to read the fares table. It does look rather complex.

21:20 SB:
There will be a total of seven speakers to the press including RTA chief Al Tayer, Essa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of the Public Transport Agency, and Abdul Majeed Al Khaja, CEO of Rail Agency.

21:15 AB:
The doors close and the first metro train leaves the Mall of the Emirates station.

21:10 SB: We're now at Rashidiya and there's a lot of security here. The RTA has now seen my gym gear.

21:09 AB:
It's all happening now. HH has entered the station, pulled out his wallet and bought a ticket with one of his own AED10 notes! Yes he has his own cash. Anyway, at exactly nine seconds past 9:09 he put his ticket in the gate to massive applause in this station and he is now boarding the first metro train.

21:05: Dubai One TV shows Sheikh Mohammed walking towards the station at Mall of the Emirates. Commentators remark how long the walk seems to be

21:02 AB: Right then, we've just been treated to fabulous video. Everyone has now got up and are making way down to the mall once again and towards the station. It's about four minutes to go before this whole thing kicks off, and there is incredible excitement and tension. In fact my wife is getting quite emotional, maybe because of the dodgy curtains. Joking aside, this is a truly great moment coming up. Having lived in this city for six years, I really do feel it is My City My Metro.

20:50 SB: Woohoo, we're moving at last! Next stop, Rashidiya.

20:48pm AB: Sorry about disappearing, my wife needed some curtains from The One. Anyway, everyone has piled into the auditorium. After a brief introduction, containing phrases like “history making”, “turning point” and “great event”, the official documentary was shown, after which Matter Al Tayer, boss of the RTA took the stage.

He is still speaking now. Beginning his speech with the phrase "we have the right to be proud" he quickly compared the Dubai Metro to other Metro projects in Singapore and Switzerland, explaining how this was done better, bigger and faster. How right! I've never seen Al Tayer speak before, and even though I am getting this through an interpreter as its in Arabic, he is one impressive speaker.

20:46 SB: A metro train just passed our bus. Tried to see if anyone was on it but couldn't. Arabian Business - live from a parked bus at the moment. Come on driver, let's go!

20:42 Mattar Al Tayer, chairman, RTA:
"There were great hands that worked and built; minds that created and planned and a will of determination and support that made this possible...the Metro shows Dubai's ability of progress and renewal itself and we are pleased to be pioneers in our region."

20:40 SB:
Would you believe that the bus is now officially late and suddenly Dubai is feeling more like London by the minute.

20:35 SB:
Funny how taxi drivers always have the right change when they drop you outside the RTA headquarters, isn't it!

20:30 SB:
Three buses ready to take us to Rashidiya. Never seen a group of journalists so excited about working late. New buses appear to have women's and children's sections at the front.

20:10 Anil Bhoyrul (AB)
Mall of the Emirates: So while Andy mingles with the general public (it’s all about who you know, pal), I’ll just finish off the magnificent food that was being served over here at Mall of Emirates in the VIP tent.

For those of you not in Dubai, the sky is clear and the temperature has crashed to just 104 Fahrenheit. Or as we say in Dubai, it’s “very cold.”

And for those of us living in this great city, you don’t need me to remind you what a fabulous day this is. At long, long last, the Metro is here.

In less than an hour’s time, the Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed will press the magic button and the world’s most modern transit system will go live. Wow! And thanks to the legendary Al Gore who invented the internet, you can read everything going, as it happens, live here on Arabian Business. Who needs football heh?!

So what’s been happening so far? His Highness arrived at the Mall of Emirates at 8.05pm accompanied by around 50 dignitaries, including the Crown Princes and several high ranking officials at both Federal and Local Government level.

Just noticed DP World boss Sultan Bin Sulayem with them. Everyone whizzed through past Paul Café (why didn't they stop there?!) and to the third floor of the Mall.

Right now the group is heading towards the actual Metro station itself (which is connected directly to the Mall) for the opening ceremony.

And I’m off to try and find them….

20:05 Andrew White (AW) Nakheel Harbour:
Good evening, trainspotters, and welcome to 090909 live from the Dubai Metro. My name is Andrew White and I’ll be on the first train to carry members of the public, a lucky lot who won their opportunity through a ‘golden ticket’ draw. I’ve been presented with a very fetching ‘Golden Ticket’ t-shirt, and an RTA baseball cap. So now I can ride the train and look my best.

Our journey starts at Nakheel Harbour and Tower Metro Station, one of the ten set to open to the public tomorrow morning. The others are Rashidiya, Airport Terminal 3, Deira City Center, Al Rigga, Union, Khaleed bin Al Waleed, Al Jafiliya, DIFC, and Mall of the Emirates.

There’s a lull while everybody assembles on the platform, so it must be time for bad train joke number one. Question: What do you call a man who steps on a live 3rd rail? Answer: A conductor! Sorry. There will be more of those, though...

Anyway, while I hang around here, I’m going to hand over to my colleague Anil Bhoyrul who has somehow managed to get himself right in the middle of all the VIPs over at Mall of the Emirates.

20:00 SB: Evening starts on a brand spanking new RTA bus that is taking me and other reporters to the press conference at Rashidiya Station.

18:25 Soren Billing (SB) on way to Rashidiya: Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed tweets that he is "soon to arrive" at the Mall of the Emirates to inaugurate the metro. Earlier, he said he was proud of what Dubai had achieved and the way it had achieved it.

It's one of the biggest days in the development of Dubai and Arabian Business will be there to deliver live coverage of events at the launch of Dubai Metro, with events expected to start at about 8.30pm.


Special Report

Dubai Metro Opening

Dubai Metro Opening

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Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: venkat

Dubai and UAE Economy is back on rail.Fantastic experience. Recession is gone when you are at metro station. Metro Rail slides over all difficulties of Dubai. Three cheers to all Authorities to bring out Metro on 09/09/09.Nothing is perfect from Day one. Metro is near perfect.

Posted by: John Doe

Good job RTA!! Congrats! i'm ready to part with may car once th egreen line opens.

Posted by: Paul Welsh

I just travelled (more out of curiosity if I am honest) from Terminal 3 to Rashidiya and onwards from there to Mirdif West and my house on the feeder bus (F3). It was very good. It took more time than a taxi but cost only 2.3 AED versus 40 AED in the cab. There was only one teething issue, that was the ticket machines at the Terminal 3 station were out of action but the ladies atthe desk were very helpful and I bought my NOL Silver Card from them. I know the frequency of the trains and thus the feeder buses will increase over time which will make it even better. I am a fan and will certainly be trying it out for my work commute to Bank Street.

Posted by: Cecil Rodrigues

Today i took my first journey from Jebel ali to Terminal 3 and the actual time was 45 mins even with changing the trains in MOE Station. heard loads of comments from passengers some were upset due to delays...changing of trains etc etc...but i would say all such hugh projects have intial teething problems and we should experince it and be a part of such a hugh improvement in public transport. so fellow passengers please be a little realistic in life and congratulate RTA on such a lovely gift to the people of UAE...

Posted by: Dave

Agreed SZ. The first live event I have ever watched on TV in Dubai and I am glad that I am not the only one to think how awful the coverage from the studio was. It was without doubt the most appaling piece of live reporting I have ever watched. In the end I switched over to an Arabic language channel (they were showing full screen coverage, not splits with the studio) and turned the sound down. Brilliant event for Dubai - and was glad I could watch events unfold. Terrible commentary with utterly inept presenters.

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