Etihad Rail, the developer and operator of the UAE National Rail Network, concluded its participation at the 17th edition of Middle East Rail, the largest transport event in the region, today (May 17) in Abu Dhabi with the closing of seven major agreements.
Hosted by Etihad Rail for the second consecutive year, the event was held under the patronage of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE Vice President, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of the Presidential Court, and in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, the Department of Culture and Tourism, and GCC Railways Authority. 
The exhibition and conference welcomed over 10,000 attendees, including eight ministers from Europe, the UK, North Africa, and the GCC, 300 exhibitors, and 600 VIPs, with 30 countries represented in total.
On the strategic deals, Etihad Rail said these were mainly aimed at driving the development of the rail freight and passenger services. 
The first agreement inked was for the establishment of a joint venture company with DHL Global Forwarding -  a division of Deutsche Post DHL that provides air and ocean freight forwarding services. 
The deal with the Germany-based group that undertakes major logistics projects under the brand name DHL Industrial, is mainly aimed at strengthening Etihad Rail's sustainable freight offering within the UAE.
This was followed by an MoU with Italian luxury hospitality company Arsenale to establish a luxury train experience, in addition to a deal with MICCO, an integrated logistics provider and part of AD Ports Group as well as Uber.
The other big deals signed at the event were with Morocco’s national railway operator ONCF as well as drone cargo specialist SkyGo; and an agreement with the Fujairah Natural Resources Corporation (FNRC), an independent government entity established to supervise and control mining facilities specialised in extracting natural resources in Fujairah.
Etihad Rail also had an active presence as part of the conference agenda, where Shadi Malak, its CEO, delivered a keynote address during the opening ceremony of the event. 
"We are proud to have been the name host for Middle East Rail once again, which is aligned with the UAE leadership’s vision, their recognition of the significant advantages of rail, and the importance of relying on trains for freight and passenger transportation," stated Malak. 
"This year’s event was the largest on record, and we are delighted to build on our commitment to partnerships, participating alongside leading entities across the global railway sector," he added.
Commenting on the agreements, Malak said: "These are testament to Etihad Rail’s efforts to consistently identify partnerships that improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the UAE National Rail Network, as we strive to develop a country-wide network that serves the needs of the UAE and benefit customers in every sector and passengers across the country." 
"The joint venture with DHL Global Forwarding reinforces the reputation of Middle East Rail, with Etihad Rail as its sponsor, as a platform for forming commercial partnerships with global companies for the benefit of the UAE. This partnership will strengthen our sustainable freight offering within the UAE, and further drive economic growth in the country," he stated. 
"We will work with ONCF – operators of one of the continent’s oldest railways – on knowledge sharing and best practice learnings as we develop our network," he added.
On the MICCO deal, Malak said it have a proven track record in the UAE, and this agreement will see the establishment of an intermodal freight solution. 
"As a result, our customers will be able to use their time and resources more efficiently, allowing them to focus on their core business objectives," he added.
On its collaboration with Arsenale, Malak said it was a testament to Etihad Rail’s commitment to drive economic and social growth in the UAE through the National Rail Network. 
"By establishing a luxury train experience, we are introducing a unique world-class offering to the region and contributing to boosting the tourism sector in the UAE. Furthermore, we will be able to showcase the country’s diverse heritage and beauty to visitors from around the world" he stated.
"The agreement with Uber is in line with Etihad Rail’s efforts to improve the quality of life of people around the country, by supporting our ability to provide accessible transportation across the UAE, including in areas with limited accessibility. We look forward to working closely with Uber and hope to benefit from their expertise in the global transportation space," he added.
On its tie-up with drone cargo expert SkyGo, Malak said: "We are collaborating on freight train drone inspection, utilising the company’s technology to benefit from data services, and the agreement is yet another example of our drive to innovate, establish new processes, and build on our existing digitalisation efforts."
"Finally, the agreement with the FNRC reinforces our ability to offer our customers a comprehensive end-to-end solution that combines reliability, sustainability, and speed to market – and is, most importantly, competitive. By providing an integrated transportation service, we ensure our partners’ supply chains, like FNRC, remain agile and adaptable," he added.-TradeArabia News Service