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A Twin of the World's Most Famous Train Will Pass Through Saudi Arabia: The Orient Express to Cross the Desert

A Twin of the World's Most Famous Train Will Pass Through Saudi Arabia: The Orient Express to Cross the Desert
photo: / Public domain/Saudi Arabia Railways
19 / 02 / 2024

The Orient Express train became famous thanks to the film adaptation by Agatha Christie. But there's much more to this train than just its cinematic portrayal. The Middle East has taken notice and decided to build its own version of the Orient Express.

The Orient Express will operate in Saudi Arabia under the name Dream of the Desert. Capable of accommodating 82 passengers, the train will feature up to 40 luxury cabins. Spanning 1,300 km across the Saudi desert, its journey will start in the capital, Riyadh, pass through the city of Hail, and conclude at the northern border with Jordan in the city of Al Qurayat.

The contract was signed between the state-owned Saudi Arabia Railways and the Italian company, Arsenale Group. The design will draw inspiration from Saudi style and tradition for the interior. The production cost is expected to exceed 47 million euros. Aimed at supporting the burgeoning tourism sector, the train's inaugural run is anticipated in 2025, with ticket sales beginning later this year.

The Orient Express is synonymous with luxury, romance, and adventure. Its storied history began in the 19th century with the first run taking place on June 5, 1883, from the Eastern Station in Paris. The train featured first-class accommodations, lounge cars, a dining car, and sleeper cars. By 1888, the route extended through Budapest, Belgrade, and Sofia, culminating in Constantinople. / Public domain

This extraordinary train connected Europe's social and financial elite, offering passengers delicious local cuisine and the opportunity to enjoy onboard folklore performances.

Interesting Fact

The train experienced several raids. In 1891, it was robbed by the Greek bandit Anasthatos, who secured a ransom in gold. It also faced threats during the Second World War. In the 1970s, nostalgia trains began to operate. While the original Orient Express no longer runs, its legacy continues through these nostalgic journeys. / Public domain

The World of Film

The Orient Express has also made its mark in filmography. The most notable adaptation, Murder on the Orient Express, was released in 1974, featuring Belgian detective Hercule Poirot solving a murder mystery. A remake of this classic film was released in 2017, preserving the atmospheric mystery of the original story.

The famous detective James Bond, Agent 007, combats villains on the Orient Express in From Russia with Love. The historic train also makes an appearance in the 2004 film Around the World in 80 Days. In 1985, the British series Adventure on the Orient Express featured the main character embarking on a journey aboard this iconic train.