Sustainable mobility news from the Gulf region and the Netherlands

Newsletter 18, April 2023

Dutch train powered by wind energy (photo by iStock)

Dear ,

Welcome to Modasti’s 18th and final newsletter.

Clean Buses in Dubai

As I announced in the last newsletter, I attended the Clean Buses in MENA Conference (organised by Global Mass Transit) in Dubai on 7 and 8 February 2023. I moderated three conference sessions and gave a presentation titled Decarbonisation and Electrification of Bus Fleets.

Walking through Dubai, riding the metro, and taking a long bus trip along Jumeirah Street, I realised it was the 11th time I had been in the United Arab Emirates since my first visit in 2007. I also felt a bit sad. Although Dubai has an excellent metro network and several sustainable mobility initiatives, it is a car-focused city where cycling is unpleasant and all the buses still run on diesel.

Sustainable Mobility in Saudi Arabia?

Before and after the Dubai conference, I spent over a month in Saudi Arabia. I worked on a project, walked through Riyadh, and spoke with transport specialists. I also tried to find out when exactly the capital’s long-overdue new metro and bus system would open its doors to passengers, but I did not succeed. (Later, on 19 March, the authorities unexpectedly announced that, from that day on, the first phase of the bus system would be in operation.)

It was the eighth time I had visited the country since my first visit in 2019, and I also took off 2.5 weeks for a holiday.

One of the key questions that often popped into my mind during these weeks in the kingdom was, “Is Saudi Arabia willing to move away from an oil-based economy and introduce green policies and sustainable mobility?” Visiting The LINE Exhibition (which felt like watching a sci-fi movie), walking around in the City of Tabuk (yearning for some clean air), driving through the desert where NEOM and THE LINE are being built (and reading this shocking report about the futuristic megacity), and experiencing the country’s bureaucracy and non-transparency while visiting touristic sites, I realised that the answer to this question was no. Alas.

My six weeks in the Gulf region in January and February resulted in good and bad news.

Modasti is discontinuing its activities

Let’s start with the bad news: As of 31 March 2023, Modasti Consulting has suspended its operations.

Over the last few years, I conducted several public transport projects in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region under Modasti’s name. Europe (where I am based) began to drift to the background, and the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia, became my focus. I’ve met a lot of friendly professionals, and working in the Arab world brought me so many new insights and a lot of vibrant energy. However, I feel it was a wise decision to close this chapter now.

A new start in the Netherlands and beyond

The good news is that April 2023 marks a new start in my career. As of this month, I am open to job opportunities in the Netherlands and nearby countries.

With 25+ years of professional experience in public transport policies and electric mobility, I might be an interesting candidate for your organisation or somebody in your network. If so, please take a look at my LinkedIn profile or contact me via

At this moment, I would like to thank you—as a frequent reader of this newsletter and/or as one of Modasti’s former clients—for your support, kindness, and patience. Thank you, and I wish you a wonderful journey toward a green economy and a sustainable mobility system!

Arjen Jaarsma, Public Transport Expert at Modasti Consulting
Arjen Jaarsma, Public Transport Expert
+31 6 235 88 096
Modasti Consulting

Modasti Consulting B.V.

Hofvijver 177, 5223 MC ’s-Hertogenbosch

the Netherlands