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Travel Dubai to Abu Dhabi just in 12 minutes

Dubai has agreed a deal with US startup Hyperloop One to evaluate the construction of a near-supersonic transport link that could curtail travel times to Emirati capital Abu Dhabi to minutes.

Dubai has recently hosted other hi-tech transport pilots, said it would conduct a “feasibility study” with Hyperloop One to sound out the scheme.

The California-based firm hailed it “historic” agreement and says  “We begin to evaluate the delivery of the world’s first hyperloop system across the country,” chief executive Rob Lloyd told reporters.

The deal will see both parties explore a route for a vacuum-sealed pod transportation system, which could potentially slash travel times between Dubai and Abu Dhabi – 150 kilometres (90 miles) apart – to around 12 minutes.

The system could later be expanded to link the UAE with neighbouring Gulf countries so that a trip between Dubai and Saudi capital Riyadh – currently two hours by plane – could be completed in under 50 minutes.

Mattar al-Tayer, Dubai Road Transport Authority’s director general, told reporters that the cost of building the system will be “an important factor when making such a strategic decision on whether or not we can have hyperloop” in addition to questions over safety and demand.

Hyperloop is a futuristic passenger and freight transport system that promoters say offers the promise of near-supersonic speeds.

Earlier this year, Hyperloop One held a first public test in the desert outside Las Vegas, trying out engine components designed to rocket pods through reduced-pressure tubes at speeds of 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) per hour.

The company says the system offers better safety than passenger jets, lower build and maintenance costs than high-speed trains, and energy usage, per person, that is similar to a bicycle.

In September, it unveiled its first driverless bus service, launching a month-long trial period for the electric vehicle with a view to expanding it across the city state.