Posted by: englishdubai | September 11, 2009

All the Nines

The world didn’t end. But as good things come in three the 9th of the 9th 2009 brought some real smiles.

England qualified for the world cup which was great considering the epic failure they had missing out on the last European Championships. This now gives me the perfect opportunity to go back to my favourite holiday vacation, South Africa.

Then by the power of  Twitter and live blogging I sat back and enjoyed the nearly simultaneous Dubai Metro opening and the the Apple iPod/iTunes announcements. It was also excellent to see Steve Jobs back in action following his liver transplant.

The launch of the Dubai Metro has been promised since I first arrived in Dubai mid 2006. It was amazing watching the supports for the Metro sprout up along the Sheikh Zayed Road seemingly over night. Then following this the huge Japanese bridge building machines that joined the supports with countless concrete sections.Finally the stations started to appear looking like huge gold Armadillos mirroring in the desert sun.

For it to open on time (a soft opening of 10 stations) is a remarkable achievement. I drove passed one of the stations the night of the opening and they look wonderful inside. The National has some great photos here and a nice video montage.

The opening attracted a huge press following but I liked the fact keen Dubai Tweeters used the event to shake the Twitterverse with #Dubaimetro making a top trending topic for a little while. I love the power of the community with Web 2.0 making it happen.

I for one will use it when the need arises especially as more stations open up over the coming months. The RTA have done well to make it very affordable to ride with a the maximum cost of a single ticket coming in at only 5.80 aed ($1.58) making it about a quarter of the price of a similar trip on the London Underground.

I do wonder about the opening hours i.e. not running till 2pm on a Friday and closing at 11pm outside of Ramadan. Seems a little odd as the Metro would be the ideal transit for a lot of people arriving into Dubai Airport during the peak arrivals time of midnight till 2am. Having said this, the RTA have said they will review the opening hours based on demand.

Dubai has had a tough year with the financial crisis, property market crash and stinging articles in the world’s press. But this week Dubai can stand proud and united with the first mass transit system in the Gulf built to world class standards. A huge step forward. Well done.


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