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Another mega-project in Dubai: Al Maktoum International Airport to become the largest airport in the world


Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai
© Dubai Airports

There have been numerous discussions about this being a waste of investment. But now a massive expansion of Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai is underway, with the aim of increasing its capacity to 260 million passengers. This airport is set to replace the existing one within the next ten years.


Where once there was only sand, the world's largest international airport now stands. According to figures from the world airport association ACI World, almost 87 million people traveled abroad or arrived from Dubai International Airport in 2023. This number of international travelers is unmatched worldwide.


Despite its rapid rise to become a global hub in recent decades, the Persian Gulf emirate is still aiming for more. On Sunday (April 28), the Dubai government decided to expand Al Maktoum International Airport. The project, which will focus on the construction of a new terminal, is expected to cost 128 billion dirhams, or around 33 billion euros.


First component to be completed in 2034


Al Maktoum International Airport, also known as Dubai World Central and with the IATA code DWC, is no newcomer. It was opened for cargo flights in 2010 and for passenger flights in 2013. Nevertheless, it still leads a shadowy existence next to the emirate's major airport. Hardly any airline has decided to move its flights there, not even the home airlines Emirates and Flydubai. So far it has played a role mainly in the cargo sector and business jet traffic. Many have therefore already spoken of an investment ruin, especially after the expansion work that had previously begun was stopped.


400 aircraft will be accommodated


But now it is really about to happen: Over the next ten years, the entire operation of Dubai International Airport will be relocated to the current number two airport, announced Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a statement. The first phase of the expansion is to be completed by 2034, which will increase the capacity of Al Maktoum International Airport from the current 26.5 to 160 million travelers.


When fully completed, Dubai's new airport will cover 70 square kilometers and have a capacity of up to 260 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo. This will make it five times the size of the current Dubai International Airport (IATA code DXB) and larger than any other airport in the world. It will have space for 400 aircraft and five parallel runways. Sheikh bin Rashid Al Maktoum also promises to use the latest technologies.


A new district will be created


The project is more than just a gigantic airport. There are plans to build an entire city around the airport that will accommodate a million people, according to Sheikh bin Rashid Al Maktoum. In addition, a commercial zone will be created that will house the "world's leading companies in the logistics and aviation industry." "We are creating a new project for future generations that will ensure continuous and stable development for our children and grandchildren. Dubai will be the airport, the port, the urban center and the new global center of the world."


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