“The Abu Dhabi Department of Transportation will test using Regent seagliders to link the emirates and islands.”


On Thursday, Regent, a US maritime transport business, and the Abu Dhabi Investment Office signed an agreement to build seagliders that fly at high speeds over water in the UAE.

Boston startup Regent has also struck an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Transport to incorporate its electric-powered seaglider into the UAE’s current transportation network, with a focus on high-impact routes such offshore services to Delma and Sir Bani Yas islands.

Regent is developing its passenger boat, Viceroy, which exploits the wing-in-ground effect to sail at speeds of up to 290kph within a wingspan of the water’s surface, reducing travel times between coastal cities by more than 50%.


The company, which has shown its float, foil and fly technology on a quarter-scale model, is currently creating a full-scale 20-metre wingspan model capable of carrying 12 passengers and two crew to evaluate its use before entering full production next year at its Rhode Island facility.


Regent had strong industry and investor support in raising its $60 million Series A funding, including Abu Dhabi’s Strategic Development Funds and Neom Investment Fund, which made the single largest investment in the round.

Japan Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Lockheed Martin, and Shark Tank star and billionaire Mark Cuban have also provided financial support, bringing the total investment to $90 million.

According to co-founder and CEO Billy Thalheimer, Regent has a backorder of more than $9 billion from airline and ferry operators for both the Viceroy and the bigger 100-passenger Monarch, which he believes will alter regional transit in coastal communities.


Regent has manufacturing and test facilities in Rhode Island and is “looking at other sites within the US” to develop its building capacity, Mr Thalheimer told The National.

He stated that Regent will “localize sea glider manufacturing in Abu Dhabi” in order to assist fulfill orders in the Middle East, Europe, and Indo-Pacific areas. “Adio and I are now working on the plan. At the end of the decade, we want to start production,” he stated.

The next step will be to bring together all stakeholders, identify the site, prepare for manufacturing and understand the overall plan as to when we can begin and what production will look like in Abu Dhabi.

Regent will be a member of the Masdar City-based Smart and Autonomous Vehicles Industry (Savi) cluster, which intends to build intelligent, self-driving cars for land, air, and marine applications.


Savi, which opened as a multimodal hub in October, is predicted to create up to 50,000 jobs and add between Dh90 billion and Dh120 billion ($24.5 billion and $32.7 billion) to the UAE’s GDP.

The head of Adio, Badr Al Olama, stated that Regent will “shape the future of coastal transportation”.

“I’m convinced that electric seagliders will be deployed globally in Abu Dhabi with incredible speed and efficiency, and that this will fundamentally alter how people and products are transported across the world’s coastal regions in the future.

Mr. Al Olama said in a press statement on on Thursday.

Although production capacity will be determined by demand, Regent already has solid orders from a commercial operator in Egypt and an unidentified company located in Abu Dhabi.


According to him, the specifics of what will be constructed in Abu Dhabi are still being worked out, but the goal is to have complete manufacturing facilities there.

Mr. Thalheimer stated, “What we’re manufacturing is still part of the discussion.”

“While making anything is the plan, the ultimate goal is to build whole seagliders.. The next stage is to truly determine how it looks and put all the components of the project together.”


Wing-in-ground effect technology has been known for almost 60 years. It works by utilizing the same idea that gulls use to glide low over the water: aerodynamic lift plus air pressure produced by flying near the water’s surface.

Regent’s Seaglider can maneuver through crowded waterways and bad weather because of its intermediate position between boat and glider, which pops up on a hydrofoil.

After motoring out of a harbor on a hydrofoil, the seaglider uses the ocean as a runway to take off at a modest speed until reaching a peak speed of 290 kph.

It provides fast access over coastal seas, especially when moving from islands to the mainland. With current battery technology, it can cover up to 300 km of routes, and with next-generation batteries, up to 800 km.

In a deal unveiled at the DriftX event on Thursday, the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport will incorporate the use of seagliders throughout the emirate. The first islands to benefit from this integration are Sir Bani Yas Island, which is home to the Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara and a protected wildlife reserve, and Delma Island, where 10,000 residents primarily use a once-daily flight to access services on the mainland.

According to Mr. Thalheimer, “Delma is currently serviced by Q400 turbo props with one flight per day.”



“You can only image how difficult it is to have to go by plane, which departs from your house just once a day, in order to take advantage of chances for employment, education, and healthcare. Seagliders provide people on Delma Island more freedom and accessibility to the mainland.”


Smart and future plans

The goal of Abu Dhabi is to give its citizens access to more intelligent and effective transportation options.

Abu Dhabi and Shenzhen inked a twin-city agreement in February to exchange expertise and work together on smart city initiatives in a number of domains, such as advanced technology, autonomous solutions, urban development, green mobility, infrastructure, city planning, and transportation.

In addition, autonomous taxis are being tested in Abu Dhabi. Next year, flying taxis are anticipated to operate in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, greatly reducing travel times between the two emirates.



According to Mr. Thalheimer, the seagliders would also facilitate inter-emirate communication and provide travelers with an alternative to the congested highways that connect Ras Al Khaimah and Abu Dhabi.

” At this point, it takes up to two and a half hours to go from Abu Dhabi to Ras Al Khaimah.. However, you may go on day trips and finish them in less than an hour with seagliders.”

“This is similar to what seagliders may build here and run under the Department of Transportation.”


One of the busiest road trips in the United Arab Emirates is the one that connects Abu Dhabi with Dubai. Travel times between the two cities would be halved if high-speed water connections were available.

“On that trip, Seaglider would be roughly equivalent. Since you’re traveling more quickly than in a car, it would be somewhat faster than a car, but a car travels door to door, but a seaglider must first go to the pier.

In terms of actual travel time, it would take around 25 minutes. for us to halve the journey time.”



The leading courier company in the Middle East, Aramex, and Regent inked a contract in December for the development of electric seagliders for middle-mile logistics.



In order to create connection to the islands around the shoreline, especially Sindalah, it is also collaborating with Saudi Arabia’s Neom project.

According to him, Neom is searching for improved connectivity across the Red Sea islands—faster, more affordable, environmentally friendly, and more pleasant connectivity.

Mr. Thalheimer stated that the Monarch will go into service “before the end of the decade,” which will be of special interest to ferry and airline operators.

According to him, the hydrodynamics of the hydrofoil and all of this technologies scale extremely well with size.

Large airplanes with batteries are more difficult to operate at high altitudes since they are heavier, larger, and require more energy to operate.



According to him, ground effect provides an effective flying style that gives it a clear edge over airplanes.

He said that the hydrodynamic scale scales extremely well with size and that always being over a spot to land is quite efficient in terms of the amount of reserve fuel you need to carry.

You’re talking about a fifty percent decrease in running expenses, all of which are supposedly passed on to the client in the form of savings when switching to that huge Monarch model and seagliders.


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Source The National News 25th April

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