By Sarah Townsend
US-based research firm to sign sponsorship agreement with Abu Dhabi ruling family
Plans for a hyperloop rapid transit system linking Abu Dhabi with Al Ain in nine minutes have moved a step closer following a strategic sponsorship deal with a member of the UAE ruling family.
Representatives for Sheikh Falah bin Zayed Al Nayhan announced during a press conference in Abu Dhabi on Sunday that a sponsorship deal had been signed with US-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).
Sheikh Falah is the son of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founder and first president of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi.
The size of the agreement was not disclosed, but HTT said it had enabled the company to surpass its $100 million in total investments towards the development of hyperloop transport systems across the world.
HTT said to date it has received $31.8 million in cash from stakeholders, as well as $26 million of man-hours and services, $22 million of land rights and an additional $27 million of in-kind investments by several companies that have joined the team.
The brainchild of Tesla founder Elon Musk, the futuristic mode of transport involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, shuttling people and cargo at speeds of up to 1,200 kilometres per hour.
A deal was already signed in December between HTT and the Abu Dhabi government to study the feasibility of a hyperloop system between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.
It was claimed that the system would shrink the journey time between the two cities to just nine minutes.
This week, HTT chairman Bibop Gresta said the system would cost around $40 million per kilometre to build, but did not reveal the expected total cost of the project.
He said: “Sheikh Falah’s] involvement with HTT is both crucial and highly valued by every team member, as it will allow us to align ourselves with Abu Dhabi’s vision and accelerate the pace of our exciting project to connect Abu Dhabi with Al Ain via Hyperloop.”
Moustafa Samir, an adviser to Sheikh Falah, said the patronage of HTT is a “confirmation of [the Sheikh’s] interest in supporting strategic development projects that will strengthen the position of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, both internationally and regionally”.
“[The Abu Dhabi-Al Ain project] promises to support and develop the emirate’s infrastructure, and contribute to driving economic and social activity in Abu Dhabi, and in Al Ain in particular.”
HTT is a rival to Hyperloop One, another US-based company – with teams on the ground in the UAE – that last year signed an agreement with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority to assess the feasibility of building a hyperloop between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.For all the latest transport news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.