Ras Al Khaimah to elevate tourism with electric air mobility across the emirate by 2027

13 May 2024 by Yi-Hwa Hanna
Ras Al Khaimah to elevate tourism with electric air mobility across the emirate (Image supplied by: Tales and Heads)

Ras Al Khaimah Transport Authority (RAKTA) and Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) have signed a future-forward Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Skyports Infrastructure (Skyports), a company leading the development of vertiport infrastructure for electric air taxi services, as part of a significant new step towards transforming the Emirate’s tourism and transportation offering.

The MoU marks the beginning of a partnership that aims to pioneer sustainable tourism through electric air mobility, with Skyports set to develop a network of vertiports to connect key attractions across Ras Al Khaimah. Under the agreement RAKTA, RAKTDA and Skyports will collaboratively design, develop, and operate Ras Al Khaimah’s first electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi ecosystem, with commercial operations set to commence by 2027.

The innovative project aims to propel Ras Al Khaimah forward as a destination of the future, aligning with RAKTA’s Strategic Plan 2030 by seamlessly integrating Skyports’ vertiport infrastructure with RAKTA’s existing transport network. The project is intended to provide convenient zero-emission transport to Ras Al Khaimah’s most popular areas and attractions, including Al Marjan Island, Al Hamra and Jebel Jais – the UAE’s highest peak – while also helping tourists and residents alike save a substantial amount of time when visiting these sites. Right now, a trip from Al Marjan Island to Jebel Jais takes approximately 70 minutes by car, while the air taxi services will reportedly cut the journey time to less than 20 minutes.

The initiative also addresses the need for innovative solutions to cut carbon emissions in ground transportation – a sector that accounts for 40 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions in the travel and tourism industry, as highlighted by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) – with hope to unlock future opportunities to integrate with air taxi networks across the rest of the UAE.

H.E Eng. Esmaeel Hasan Al Blooshi, director general of RAKTA, added: “This partnership marks a pivotal moment in our efforts to revolutionise transportation in Ras Al Khaimah. By introducing electric air mobility, we’re not just connecting tourists to our attractions, we’re forging a sustainable path forward for our Emirate. This innovative project aligns perfectly with our commitment to enhancing accessibility while minimising our environmental impact, following our 2030 strategic plan. Together, we’re shaping a brighter, greener future for Ras Al Khaimah.”

Ras Al Khaimah to elevate tourism with electric air mobility across the emirate (Image supplied by: Tales and Heads)

H.E Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, expressed his enthusiasm about the partnership, saying: “The support we’ve received from the UAE government and Ras Al Khaimah authorities has been phenomenal, enabling us to innovate at an unprecedented scale and pace. In the next two years, we aim to build the infrastructure and facilities for an electric-powered transit system that will redefine the way tourists experience Ras Al Khaimah. This collaboration also perfectly aligns with our commitment to sustainable tourism. By introducing electric air mobility, we not only enhance accessibility to Ras Al Khaimah’s attractions but also significantly reduce our carbon footprint. This initiative drives us closer to our goal of establishing Ras Al Khaimah as a regional leader in sustainable tourism by 2025.”

Duncan Walker, CEO and founder of Skyports, added: “We are eager to join forces with the leading transport and tourism organisations in Ras Al Khaimah to launch electric air taxi services in the Emirate. This collaboration further underscores our commitment to providing the essential enabling infrastructure for zero-emission aviation across the UAE. We look forward to contributing our expertise to realise Ras Al Khaimah’s ambitious transport and tourism goals.”

Today’s announcement further strengthens the UAE’s position as a leading market for the burgeoning advanced air mobility industry. Elsewhere, Skyports is leading the research, development and construction of vertiports, partnering with the world’s leading eVTOL companies to provide critical infrastructure for the launch of commercial passenger and cargo flight. In April this year, Skyports raised US$110 million and onboarded new investor ACS Group to support its commercial launch.

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