Etihad Rail, the UAE National Rail Network developer and operator, has signed an agreement with Italian luxury hospitality company Arsenale to roll out "a luxury train experience that pays homage to Emirati culture and heritage."

The luxury train will travel throughout the UAE towards the border with Oman, passing through Mezeira’a, along Liwa Desert and its famous oasis. It will extend to the wider GCC, once the GCC Railway is operational. This will be Arsenale’s second international luxury train project, following the recent announcement of The Dream of the Desert project in Saudi Arabia.

The deal was signed in the presence of Lorenzo Fanara, Ambassador of Italy to the UAE, on the sidelines of the recently concluded two-day Middle East Rail Exhibition and Conference in Abu Dhabi, where Etihad Rail signed a total of seven agreements "further to drive the development of its freight and passenger services."

Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, said: "Our collaboration with Arsenale is 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 added.

Fully customised train

In a press statement, Arsenale said, "The UAE will be among the first countries in the world to have a luxury cruise service with a fully customised train."

The train will consist of 15 luxury carriages that will pass through the cosmopolitan cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, to the nature destinations of Fujairah, with its sheer mountains right on the border with Oman, and the Liwa desert, with its world-famous oasis, near Mezeiraa train station.

The carriages will be completely refurbished in specialised factories located in Puglia and Sicily, Italy. The production, craftsmanship, quality of onboard services, interior design and know-how will be Italian, Arsenale noted.

Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale SpA, said: "We are thrilled to partner with Etihad Rail on a unique project that promotes the discovery of a magical and exciting territory outside the renowned destinations of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

"The railway cruise is the present and the future of tourism, and Arsenale wants to make it available in the most beautiful places in the world, introducing this new fascinating and sustainable way of travelling. This partnership demonstrates that there are no limits to passion and no barriers that can stop the desire to go beyond the imaginary."

Other agreements

Meanwhile, Etihad Rail also signed six other agreements at the 17th edition of Middle East Rail, including the establishment of a joint venture company with DHL Global Forwarding; an agreement with integrated logistics provider MICCO; an MoU with Morocco's national railway operator ONCF; an MoU with global technology company Uber; an MoU with 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.

The National Rail Network, which was inaugurated in February this year, now links all emirates, connecting residential, industrial, and commercial centres with four key ports across the UAE.

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