They say familiarity breeds contempt. I would challenge that as being set-in-stone. We, who are lucky enough to call Dubai home, whether we are UAE nationals or foreign expatriates, never fail to be amazed at the changing landscape that’s undoubtedly the envy of the world. Just when we think the emirate’s advancement has reached its limit, it never fails to go one better and surprise us.
One of my greatest pleasures in life is my morning’s stroll to my Jumeirah office. This is my time to appreciate anew the stunning architecture, spotlessly clean roads, greenery, bird song - and smiling faces all around. How privileged are we to live in such an energetic, multi-cultural environment in absolute safety and security, especially when we look around us to see that many of our neighbours aren’t nearly as fortunate. Sheikh Rashid, God rest his pure soul, would be delighted to see that his vision has not only been realised but monumentally surpassed.
I’m grateful for so much. I count my blessings each day and am thankful for the wisdom and foresight of Sheikh Rashid and his sons, who remained faithful to his principle of caring for Dubai and its citizens as though he was tending his own garden for the sake of his people, he considered as his children. I take nothing for granted; perhaps because my youth was spent battling hardship in an unforgiving desert environment bereft of the basic necessities such as electricity, clean water and roads.
As a young man, never in my wildest dreams did I imagine out of the sands would tower iconic buildings, award winning airports, super-luxurious hotels and resorts, reputed universities, modern hospitals and medical facilities, sports and entertainment venues, mega malls, waterways, dancing fountains - and a futuristic automatic metro network. This incredible metamorphosis tells me that with hard work, dedication and the Creator’s blessings, mankind can work miracles.
My congratulations and heartfelt gratitude go to everyone who played a part no matter how large or small, in putting Dubai on the map from our wise rulers to economic strategists, educators, captains of industry, managers, loyal employees - and the men who’ve left their families to toil under the sun to build this city brick upon brick for without their efforts we would have been left with just architects’ models gathering dust on board room tables.
But on this page I want to highlight the astonishing accomplishments of a government department, which are often unrecognised. Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) - founded in 2005 “to develop a state-of-the-art, safe, smooth and friendly transport infrastructure” to “accommodate the ever-expanding population and aid in the economic development of the country” - is making us proud.
Besides being responsible for roads, the RTA also manages the Metro, a vast bus system that transports tens of millions each week, and diverse marine transport facilities, such as the Abra (water taxi), Water buses and Dubai ferry, first launched during the 2011 Boat Show and which quickly took off with residents, visitors and tourists alike as the most enjoyable method of touring the creek and various waterfronts. New ferry lines are regularly launched, the latest being one that links the Marina Mall with the Al Ghubaiba area of Dubai Creek.
Our roads, highways and flyovers are second to none and greatly contribute to Dubai’s legendary lifestyle and aesthetic while reducing traffic jams, providing ease of access, and assisting the safety of those behind the wheel. As Gulf News has reported, its “stellar work has provided a world-class road network” while quoting an RTA official saying “Today, one of the city’s top strengths is its infrastructure.” No one can argue with that. As someone who travels extensively, I can confidently say that Dubai’s infrastructure beats all others anywhere on the planet.
Firstly, I would like to salute the RTA’s all-Emirati leadership and management teams. In my encounters with them, I’ve always been impressed by the degree of utmost professionalism displayed by all. They are quick off the mark in their responses, unfailingly welcoming and in my experience they go out of their way to be cooperative. In short, it’s a pleasure to deal with such switched-on, dynamic UAE nationals who translate their love of country into tangible benefits for residents and visitors. Thanks must also go to the government that has ploughed over AED 68 billion into improving roads and infrastructure over the nine years since the RTA’s inception.
That said the RTA is not a government entity given to resting on its laurels. It is currently gearing up towards fulfilling the needs of Expo 2020 that Dubai is scheduled to host, marking the first time this prestigious world fair will be held in the MENA region. With an anticipated 25 million visitors to be catered-for, the RTA is currently studying a proposed 18.5 km extension to the Metro’s Red Line, set to run from Jebel Ali to the exhibition site with a total of 12 stations. Other plans include a 3.5 km extension from Rashidiya to Mirdiff, a 20.6 km extension from Al Jaddaf to Academic City with two new lines – Purple and Gold, set to be inaugurated in 2025.
However, keeping pace with Dubai’s expanding population, now close to two million, and ensuing traffic snarl-ups is one of the RTA’s greatest challenges. And, always prepared to think out of- the-box, the Department has put forward the idea of staggered school timings and flexible office hours. Right now the Authority has the complex task of smoothing the implementation of the Dubai Water Canal project, unveiled on October 2nd by organising a long-term traffic diversion on Sheikh Zayed Road. The almost three-kilometres-long Canal, due to be flanked by hotels, residential and commercial centres, shopping and leisure venues, will stretch from the Business Bay area to the Arabian Gulf via Sheikh Zayed Road, Safa Park, Al Wasl Road and the Jumeirah Beach Road.
Kudos must go to the men and women of the Roads and Transport Authority for their creativity, work ethic and cando spirit. All that’s left to add is to say, ‘keep up the good work’. Continue to make us proud. I, for one, know that you will.