Rail in the Middle East: MEED List

29 September 2009

Six key figures behind the development of Gulf rail.

Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hokail

Position: President, Saudi Railways Organisation (SRO)

Biography: A former executive vice president at Saudi Aramco, where he is still a board member, Abdulaziz Mohammed al-Hokail was appointed in 2007 to head the oldest railway company in Arabia. Al-Hokail led the restructuring of state energy company Saudi Aramco in 1993 to incorporate Samarec, then a separate government-owned refining firm. Al-Hokail’s is overseeing the Saudi Landbridge project, which involves building more than 900 kilometres of railway line from Jeddah to Riyadh and a spur from Dammam to Jubail. He is also in overall control of the completion of the North-South minerals railway and the Haramain high-speed railway. With a capital budget of more than $10bn, these projects will make Al-Hokail the most influential figure in the Arabian railway industry.

Contact Tel: (+9663) 821 2222

Nasser Saif al—Mansouri

Position: Director general of the National Transport Authority of the UAE

Biography: As chairman of the UAE’s National Transport Authority, and chairman of the UAE Rail Committee, Nasser Saif al-Mansouri sits at the pinnacle of the planning process for the UAE rail system. Established to develop a transport strategy for the entire UAE, the authority has the task of developing consensus among seven emirates with radically different logistics challenges. The priority is a regulatory code for all transport modes. Union Railways, formally established in June this year, is the first tangible result of its efforts. Al-Mansouri’s career in government included senior positions the Abu Dhabi Department of Planning & Economy, now the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, where he was assistant undersecretary until he joined the NTA.

Contact Tel: (+9712) 418 2222

Richard Bowker

Position: Chief executive officer (CEO), Union Railway Company

Biography: Appointed in August to head the newly formed Union Railway Company, Richard Bowker comes to the UAE after a substantial career in the UK railway industry. An economics graduate, Bowker spent a year working as a session musician before joining London Underground as a graduate finance trainee. This exposed him to early private finance initiatives in the London system. After a spell at Australia-based infrastructure specialist Babcock & Brown, Bowker became commercial director of the UK’s Virgin and co-chairman of Virgin Rail. From 2001 to 2004, he served as chairman of UK regulatory body the Strategic Rail Authority (SRA). Bowker left the SRA, which was wound up in 2006, to become head of the government’s Partnerships for Schools Initiative, before joining UK transport firm National Express as CEO.

Contact Tel: (+9712) 418 2222

Abdulla Rashid Khalaf al-Otaiba

Position: Chairman, Abu Dhabi Department of Transport

Biography: Abdulla Rashid Khalaf al-Otaiba graduated in 1993 with a bachelor of science degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Southwestern Louisiana, US. He then worked at the petroleum development department of Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations for two years. In 1996, Al-Otaiba joined the UAE Offsets Group to focus on privatisation, transport, environmental and petrochemicals projects. He became senior adviser to Mubadala Development Company and vice-president of marketing for Dolphin Energy. He was made chairman of the Department of Transport in December 2006 and was simultaneously appointed to the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, the emirate’s supreme policy-making body. Al-Otaiba oversaw the development of the Department of Transport’s Surface Transport Master Plan.

Contact Tel: (+9712) 505 3311

Abdul Majid al-Khaja

Position: CEO, Rail Agency, Dubai Roads & Transport Authority (RTA).

Biography: Abdul Majid al-Khaja joined the RTA when it was formed in 2005 and now heads the Rail Agency. He is responsible for the emirate’s metro system, which includes the Red and Green lines that are under construction, the Blue and Purple lines that are in the planning stages, and future lines. The Red and Green lines are projects inherited from Dubai Municipality and the Red line is scheduled to begin operating in September 2009, followed by the Green line in 2010. Al-Khaja has held several positions at the municipality. He began his career as a trainee engineer in 1989 and became head of the street lighting and electromechanical design unit in 1991, head of car parking control in 1998, head of the services co-ordination centre in 2002, and acting director of the roads department in 2005.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 284 4444

Paul Anderson

Position: Managing director, Serco-Dubai Metro

Biography: Paul Anderson has responsibility for the operation and maintenance of Dubai Metro’s Green and Red lines. An Australian with more than 30 years’ experience in the rail industry, he was previously senior vice-president of Vision Skill Consulting, where he headed the railway team. From 2001 to 2005, he was chief operating officer of the Bangkok Mass Transit System Public Company. Prior to moving to Bangkok, Anderson was general manager for railway systems for the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, where he led the team working on a $2bn capital works programme. His previous experience includes a spell with the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit Corporation. He started his railway career in Australia and was district engineer in charge of 1,500 kilometres of operating railway for the State Rail Authority of New South Wales.

Contact Tel: (+9714) 403 3500

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