Luxury passenger train carriages will run along the UAE’s Etihad Rail line between Fujairah and the Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi as part of a new agreement with Italy’s Arsenale Group.
The agreement, signed on Tuesday between Etihad Rail CEO Shadi Malak and Arsenale CEO Paolo Barletta, is expected to bring an Orient Express-style service within the Gulf country and later extend throughout the GCC.
Arsenale is behind The Orient Express La Dolce Vita project, which is expected to begin taking passengers across Italy in 2024.
“In the presence of H.E Lorenzo Fanara, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, #EtihadRail signed an MoU with Arsenale, an Italian luxury hospitality company, to establish a luxury train experience,” an online statement said.
“Through this agreement, Etihad Rail will contribute to driving economic and social growth and boosting the tourism sector in the UAE,” it added.
“By providing a luxurious train travel experience, we provide a unique global model for the region, contribute to supporting the national tourism sector, and will also be able to highlight the country’s diverse heritage and beauty to visitors from all over the world…” Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail was quoted as saying by the state-run WAM news agency.
“As part of our work to introduce new and innovative railway concepts to the UAE, we look forward to partnering with Arsenale S.p.A to provide one of the first luxury train cruises in the world, ensuring a unique and enjoyable passenger experience,” Malak said in a statement shared with Al Arabiya English.
The 15 luxury coaches will feature designs from Emirati culture and will be built in the south of Italy. The train, once operational, will travel through Abu Dhabi and Dubai, extending to Fujairah, with a mountain view overlooking the sea, towards the border with Oman, and passing through Mezeira’a and the Liwa Desert, Etihad Rail confirmed in a statement to Al Arabiya English.
Etihad Rail signed seven MoUs at the Middle East Rail Conference in Abu Dhabi, including with Arsenale. Global cargo company DHL and ride-hailing service Uber were among the companies with which the UAE rail firm signed agreements.
Arsenale also signed an MoU with Saudi Arabia Railway (SAR) to launch a luxury train service – titled ‘The Dream of the Desert’ in the Kingdom this week, making the Etihad Rail agreement the Italian company’s second international luxury train project.