The U.A.E. Is Building a Cross-Country Luxury Train for Middle Eastern ‘Rail Cruses’

Traveling from one end of the United Arab Emirates to the other is about to get a lot more comfortable.

This week, the country’s railway operator Etihad Rail and Italian hospitality company Arsenale signed an agreement at Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Rail conference that puts plans for a new luxury train line in motion. The “rail cruise” is expected to take you across the U.A.E., from the east’s Fujairah to Abu Dhabi’s historic Liwa desert. Production on the 15 luxury carriages is being done in Puglia and Sicily, reports The National News. And though an official launch date for the train has not been announced yet, its creation is aimed at driving the economy and social growth.

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“By establishing a luxury train experience, we are introducing a unique world-class offering to the region and contributing to boosting the tourism sector in the U.A.E.,” says Shadi Malak, CEO of Etihad Rail, in a statement. “Furthermore, we will be able to showcase the country’s diverse heritage and beauty to visitors from around the world.”

The luxury carriages for the unnamed train are being designed to reflect Emirati heritage, according to Arsenale. Its upscale interiors and on-board services, as well as Arsenale’s signature “made in Italy” signature branding will play a key role in their production. The new train will become Arsenale’s second international luxury train project, following “The Dream of the Desert” project slated for Saudia Arabia that was also recently announced. A U.A.E.-wide railway network formally opened in February with Etihad Rail’s freight service now up and running. A public passenger train is also in the works.

“We are thrilled to work together with Etihad Rail on this ground-breaking project that will promote the discovery of a magical and exciting territory outside of the renowned destinations of Abu Dhabi and Dubai,” Paolo Barletta, CEO of Arsenale, in a statement. “Railway cruising is the future of tourism and Arsenale wants to make it available in the world’s most beautiful places, introducing this fascinating and sustainable new way of traveling.” Arsenale is well known for its trains designed in partnership with Accor’s Orient Express and Fondazione FS Italiane.

Luxury train travel is surging in demand and often introducing a host of new experiences for those who enjoy opulent journeys from Europe to Asia. For eight of the most luxurious train rides you can book right now, check out our roundup of some of the planet’s best locomotives here.

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