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Abu Dhabi Signs Agreement on Futuristic Transport System

FILE - Rob Lloyd, the CEO of Hyperloop One, left, shows a model to Emirati officials including Mattar al-Tayer, the director-general and chairman of Dubai's Roads & Transport Authority, third left, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 8, 2016.

Abu Dhabi has signed the United Arab Emirates' second hyperloop feasibility study to build a futuristic high-speed transport system connecting the cities of Abu Dhabi and Al-Ain.

Abu Dhabi's Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport (DMAT) and U.S.-based Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HyperloopTT) announced the agreement, which follows a similar study signed in Dubai last month.

Dubai's Road & Transport Authority (RTA) and U.S.-based Hyperloop One, a rival to HyperloopTT, agreed on Nov. 8 to explore routes between Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

A hyperloop uses magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the pods can shuttle people and cargo at speeds of up to 750 miles (1,200 kms) per hour.

The unproven technology is proposed as a replacement to existing rail infrastructure.

The UAE has put on hold plans to build its own national rail network after neighboring Gulf countries fell behind on their rail projects that were supposed to link the six states from Kuwait to Oman.

A hyperloop route could connect Abu Dhabi and Al Ain in eight to 12 minutes, according to a joint DMAT and HyperloopTT statement. This compares to the two hours it takes by car today.

The statement said it was "the only initiative of its kind that has the support of the government of Abu Dhabi."

Hyperloop One is also exploring a route in Dubai connecting the emirate's Expo site for when it hosts the world's fair in 2020, according to a report in local newspaper Gulf News on Monday.