Saudi Arabia is on the fast track to the future - so rapid that it now plans to host the longest test and certification hyperloop track in the world.
Virgin Hyperloop One, the futuristic transport company aimed at revolutionizing commute methods, recently signed a deal with Saudi Arabia's Economic City Authority (ECA).
Under the agreement, the two parties will conduct a study on King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) located 100 kilometers north of Jeddah. They also plan to develop the world's longest test and certification track extending 35 kilometers as well as a research and development center and hyperloop manufacturing facility in the city.
"Having Hyperloop at King Abdullah Economic City is going to act as a catalyst for a Saudi Silicon Valley effect and galvanize our software development, high technology research, and manufacturing industries," said Mohanud Helal, ECA secretary-general, in a statement.
The project hopes to create opportunities for the "development of specific hyperloop technologies" as well as develop local expertise in Saudi Arabia which can eventually be commercialized and scaled.
Using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, the Hyperloop transportation technology can shuttle vehicles at more than 1,000 km per hour. Essentially, the Hyperloop train will shoot capsules at high speeds through a nearly complete vacuum inside a large-scale tube. When executed, the technology could drastically decrease the required transport time, allowing cities to become more like nearby metro stops than distant destinations.
Hyperloop technology is the brainchild of billionaire business magnate and investor Elon Musk of Tesla and Space X.
Traveling from Riyadh to Jeddah on a hyperloop would take an estimated 76 minutes as opposed to the 10 hours by car at the moment.
Not the first Hyperloop plan in the region
Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) - the organization in charge of developing a new, innovative and high-speed transportation method - will start building a track in Abu Dhabi with the aim of having it operational by 2020, just in time for the upcoming Expo in Dubai.
In 2018, the company signed an agreement with Aldar Properties, the developer behind Yas Island's Formula 1 race track, to begin construction of the Hyperloop system. According to the official statement, it will be developed close to the site of Expo 2020 and Al Maktoum International Airport, on the border of the UAE's capital of Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
The capsule will be assembled, tested and optimized in the French city of Toulouse before being transported to the UAE, according to Gulf News.
It will be the first commercial Hyperloop track in the world.