Dubai unveils $35 billion plans to construct the world’s largest airport terminal

Dubai has started construction of a $35 billion airport, which when completed will be the largest in the world, the emirate’s ruler said.

On Sunday, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of Dubai, said the new terminal would be five times larger than the current Dubai International Airport and handle 260 million passengers a year.

To focus some of its post-Gulf oil future on capturing a bigger share of tourism and trade, the world’s busiest international airport plans to transform itself into a massive $35 billion transportation hub over the coming decade. 

Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Sunday approved final plans for new passenger terminals at Al Maktoum International Airport, 40 miles south of Abu Dhabi, as the UAE continues to lay the groundwork for the next 40 years’ estimated growth in the aviation sector.

Spread over 43 square miles, the upgraded airport will be five times larger than DXB, have 400 aircraft gates, and handle 260 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo annually, making it the largest in the world. The first phase of the project is expected to be completed in 10 years.

Sheikh Mohammed said all flights at Dubai International Airport would be transferred to the new Al Maktoum in the coming years.

“As we build an entire city around the airport in Dubai South, demand for housing for a million people will follow. It will host the world’s leading companies in the logistics and air transport sectors,” Sheikh Mohammed said on X (Formerly Twitter).

“We are building a new project for future generations, ensuring continuous and stable development for our children and their children in turn. Dubai will be the world’s airport, its port, its urban hub, and its new global center.”

Al Maktoum International Airport, which opened in 2010, will be home to the emirate’s largest carrier once completed. It will have 400 aircraft gates and five parallel runways.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports, said the development will strengthen Dubai’s position as a leading aviation hub.

“The growth of Dubai has always been hand in hand with the growth of its aviation infrastructure and today we see another bold step on that journey,” Griffiths said in a statement.

While Dubai International Airport has been the world’s busiest airport for foreign travelers for the past 10 years, the facility’s capacity has weakened.

Usage of the transit hub last year also exceeded pre-pandemic levels, about 87 million riders.

Dubai announced 17.15 million foreign overnight tourists in 2023, nearly 20 percent more than last year.

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