Faris Al Mazrouei, CEO, Etihad Rail: Interview

Faris Al Mazrouei, CEO, Etihad Rail

Interview: Faris Al Mazrouei

What more needs to be done to improve the inter-connectivity of key infrastructure so that the industrial sector is able to benefit?

FARIS AL MAZROUEI: Close collaboration among infrastructure operators is a key factor in ensuring successful inter-connectivity. We work closely with our future customers and partners to ensure that the UAE’s national rail network is properly integrated with regional ports, industrial zones and other transport infrastructure such as the wider GCC rail network, Dubai Metro and the planned Abu Dhabi tram and metro networks.

With regards to the GCC railway in particular, a coordinated effort from all six states is required to ensure the necessary harmonisation of technical standards and that the railways will serve their customers’ needs. This collaboration will play a major role in facilitating full technical and operational interoperability and streamlined institutional arrangements – such as Customs processes – to ensure efficient regional rail services. For Etihad Rail, having proper interconnectivity also means we can link to other major transport and infrastructure hubs, benefitting our customers who are looking for a one-stop shop solution. In the UAE, Etihad Rail will connect industrial areas across the emirates and link these to the wider region, boosting trade and creating new business opportunities.

How can dedicated rail logistics parks in close proximity to air and seaports improve the UAE’s integrated trade infrastructure network?

AL MAZROUEI: The availability of mode choice in a hub is critical in global supply chains because different modes of transport give you different speeds of delivery, reliability and costs. In today’s global economy, supply chains must be able to adapt to ensure companies are competitive. Tight integration of modes ensures that these companies have the adaptability and flexibility in their supply chains to meet the needs of their customers and to deliver their products at the lowest possible cost. Close integration between rail and logistics infrastructure providers – at airports and seaports alike – is a strategic element in the development of the UAE’s infrastructure network and of our trading economy as a whole. Having proper connectivity will allow us to offer logistics companies an enhanced transportation system combining sea, road, air and rail.

Etihad Rail’s connection to logistics infrastructure hubs – such as Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi and Jebel Ali Industrial Area in Dubai – will play an essential role in the overall connectivity of the railway with key centres of economic importance to the UAE and the region, enabling a stronger and more efficient supply chain. To deliver this integration, we are continuing to form important partnerships with logistics infrastructure providers across the emirates.

What opportunities will be made available for investors as stages two and three of the project are rolled out? In what ways will local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) benefit?

AL MAZROUEI: A number of regional SMEs have been sub-contracted on construction and supply projects and have been instrumental in the timely and efficient delivery of stage one. Going forward, both stage two and stage three will open up similar opportunities. We also need to consider the bigger picture and the key role that Etihad Rail has in the continued development of regional businesses – SMEs and larger corporations alike.

The UAE rail network will provide a boost to existing commerce by cutting delivery times and making the transportation of goods more efficient. It will connect remote areas, creating new trade hubs throughout the country and expanding logistics capabilities. It is a well-known fact that logistics represents a significant cost for any business so by making this process more efficient and cost-effective, Etihad Rail will contribute to the economic prosperity of SMEs across the region. Many services will also be required to support the operation of the railway and we expect local businesses to be able to take advantage of these opportunities.

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