Fresh from showing off the first pieces of its first test track in France, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) has announced plans for a commercial Hyperloop system for the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi. All things going to plan, it will be ready just in time for Expo 2020, a festival of human ingenuity to be hosted by nearby Dubai.

With its penchant for futuristic technologies, it is in many ways no surprise that the UAE has become a focal point for Hyperloop developers. For a couple of years now, rival Virgin Hyperloop One has touted a future connection between Abu Dhabi and Dubai as the first-ever operational Hyperloop route.

Virgin Hyperloop One is also conducting feasibility studies exploring how the ultra-fast transport systems could carry cargo inland from the country's ports, and also harbors ambitions to develop a complete network connecting cities across the Middle East. This would include a 12-minute connection between Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a 139-km (86-mi) journey that currently takes an hour-and-a-half by car.

After signing an agreement with local developer Aldar Properties to start construction, HyperloopTT's plans for the UAE start with a 10-km (6.2-mi) stretch of tube in Abu Dhabi, close to the residential development of Alghadeer right near the border separating the emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It would also be in close proximity to the 438-hectare (1,082-ac) site for Expo 2020 and Al Maktoum International Airport.

The company hopes to eventually extend this to cover the distance between Dubai and Abu Dhabi, and then onto Riyadh, Saudi Arabia almost 1,000 km (621 mi) away. It hasn't offered a timeframe for when this link will be completed, but does say that it hopes the first section will be operational in time for Expo 2020.

"A forward-thinking nation like the UAE is ideal for building the most revolutionary, most efficient, and fastest transportation system in the world," says Dirk Ahlborn, CEO of HyperloopTT. "With this historic agreement in Abu Dhabi, we take a big step towards the world's first commercial system."

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