Dubai has had a driverless metro since 2010. Work on a tram line is also nearing completion, and it has two major airports and a world-class port in operation. By contrast, oil-rich Abu Dhabi has struggled to successfully execute transport projects in recent years.
In 2009, the capital unveiled a $68bn Surface Transport Masterplan (STMP) that proposed the development of an integrated network of highways and rail services, with a complementary system of buses, taxis and park-and-ride facilities.
Those plans subsequently stalled as the global economic crisis forced Abu Dhabi to question the population growth forecasts the STMP was based on. Only work on Khalifa Port and the Etihad Railway and more recently the Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International airport has proceeded.
Having lost so much ground to its neighbour, transport schemes are now being prioritised in Abu Dhabi. Earlier this year, firms were invited to express interest in working on the metro and light rail system. With more than 400 responses, it shows the level of interest in working in the capital.
A new super client, Abu Dhabi General Services Company (Musanada), is being set up to improve the procurement process for these developments. But hopes of a major transport boom have been raised and dashed before. Firms will be hopeful but cautious.