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Updated 8 August 2022

In 2009, Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, was officially launched with a mission to connect all the emirates. The national rail network was mainly intended to connect all of UAE’s major ports with distribution centres and link industrial hubs with urban and suburban communities.  

Keep reading to find out more about the UAE’s national railway network. 

Etihad Rail  

In an effort to redefine logistics and transport in the region, the UAE’s national railway system is all set to provide a modern, safe, efficient and sustainable network that will connect the seven emirates of the UAE to its neighbouring GCC countries.  


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The railway network is being built in stages. Stage One has been fully operational since January 2016, transporting up to 22,000 tonnes of granulated sulphur each day from Habshan and Shah to Ruwais on behalf of Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC)

Important milestones have now been achieved on Stage Two with full funding agreed, agreements signed with ports and industrial complexes, and Design and Build contracts awarded for the packages from Ghuweifat to Fujairah.

Stage Two will extend across the United Arab Emirates from the border with Saudi Arabia at Ghuweifat, connecting the Emirates via Abu Dhabi, KIZAD, Khalifa Port, Jebel Ali Port, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al-Khaimah and thence to Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast.

Route map

Once the railway is fully developed, it is expected to provide a safe, sustainable and efficient network that will connect every corner of the country, eventually connecting the UAE to other GCC countries with a 1200-kilometre track:  

  • The network is expected to connect the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east.  
  • The rail network is designed to facilitate rapid surface transport movement in the country for cargo in the initial stages and then the passengers later.  
  • It is expected to open up new trade corridors for enterprises and travel opportunities for individuals. The project would help connect the places such as the airport, the central business districts and other commercial zones, plus suburban areas.  

Opening date

Currently, the Freight Rail service is operational and is used to transport goods and materials across the emirates, keeping heavy trucks off UAE roads. Soon, the railway will be transporting people across the emirates. Right now, 75 per cent of Stage 2 of the national rail network is complete.

Etihad Rail’s 1,200 km network will extend across the United Arab Emirates, from the border of Saudi Arabia to the border of Oman. As of now:
  • 70% construction on the UAE Network is complete
  • 100% Al Dhafra Region is complete
  • 6.9km Tunnel excavations are completed

Connecting the Emirates

The passenger train will connect 11 cities and regions in the UAE from Al Sila to Fujairah, including Al Ruwais, Al Mirfa, Dubai, Sharjah, Al Dhaid, and Abu Dhabi. Passenger services will allow travellers to plan their journeys between the Emirates and cities of the UAE more efficiently, from booking their tickets until they reach their final destination.

A boost to the GDP 

The rail network is expected to bring an increase of Dh3.5 billion to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030. The project also has a return rate of 15.5 per cent. Once completed, the network is also set to form part of the GCC Railway Network by linking the UAE to Saudi Arabia via Ghweifat in the west and Oman via Al Ain in the east. 

The Etihad Rail Program aims to provide more than 9000 jobs by 2030. Click here to search for currently available roles.

Linking the military logistics 

Apart from connecting the GCC countries and being a boost to the GDP of the country, the Etihad rail is also expected to link five key military logistics centres operated by the UAE Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence.

Etihad rail achievements 

Over the years, Etihad Rail has accomplished significant achievements: 

$327 Million deal with Spain

Spain’s Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) has signed a $326.7 million (AED 1.2 billion) deal to design, manufacture, supply, and maintain passenger trains for the UAE’s Etihad Rail project. Through its partnership with CAF, a global leader in the railway industry, Etihad Rail will benefit from CAF’s long-standing experience for more than 100 years.

Biggest commercial partnership 

In August 2021, Etihad Rail successfully partnered with Western Bainoona Group, an Abu Dhabi Road construction company, to provide rail freight services for their construction materials from Western Bainoona Group’s facilities in Fujairah to Abu Dhabi and Dubai. 

Being one of Etihad Rail’s largest commercial deals for Stage Two of the rail project, around 4.5 million tonnes of Western Bainoona Group’s needs will be transported annually on 643 trains. The transportation will take place from facilities in Fujairah to logistics hubs in the Industrial City of Abu Dhabi (ICAD) and Dubai Industrial City. 

According to the reports, the length of each train will be around one kilometre, and Etihad Rail will allocate 70 wagons for each train with an approximate capacity of 7,000 tonnes per trip. 

Some of the significant advantages expected from this partnership by the authorities are: 

  • The network will enhance the capacity of companies operating across the UAE. 
  • Companies can develop their business by redirecting assets and reducing transportation costs, efficiently utilising their time and resources to become active players in the development of the UAE. 
  • The partnership will reduce road traffic by 120,000 truck trips annually. 

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