Dubai: Opulent metro little more than a joy ride

After a grand opening, barely a third of Dubai's new metro stations are working, and the distances between them are long.

A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – “My Dubai. My Metro.” That’s the slogan of the emirate’s brand new, $7.6 billion commuter train project. But Dubai’s most anticipated launch this year has been mostly a bust thus far.

Known for its grand unveilings, Dubai felt as though it were enjoying a throwback to its pre-downturn boom days with the opulent opening of its Metro system – the first of its kind in the Gulf region. But with only 10 out of 29 stations in operation, it appears to be little more than a joy ride at this point, as demonstrated by the many riders snapping photographs. The immaculate trains are equipped with Wi-Fi and each features a luxury section with leather seats at twice the cost.

It is not entirely clear who will be using the mass transit system. With long distances between stations and serving, at the moment, mainly shopping malls and financial centers, the Metro may fail to attract the demographic most in need of the transportation: the working poor, which consists mostly of construction and domestic workers.

If nothing else, the Metro’s elevated vantage point provides the best view of Dubai: a vast and sandy, half-finished cityscape that believes its best days are down the line.

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