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Everything We Know (So Far) About Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, The Most Expensive Airport In The World

It goes without saying that air travel is big in Dubai. Last year, Dubai International Airport (DXB) handled 86.9 million passengers and retained its crown as the world’s busiest international hub for the tenth year running. At the same time, tourism in the emirate is mushrooming, with 17.15 million international arrivals last year, up from 16.73 million visitors in 2019, according to Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (this represents its best ever annual tourism performance).

As part of its economic agenda D33, Dubai wants to improve on these figures, attracting a further Dh100 billion in tourism investments. But DXB presents an obstacle to that goal: its options for expansion are limited by the residential developments and highways nearby (it’s less than three miles from the city centre). The answer is a radical shake-up of Dubai’s airport offering, with a huge expansion of Al Maktoum Airport outside the city to replace DXB. Here’s the lowdown on the newly announced plans for the most expensive airport in the world.

Where Is Dubai’s New Airport ?

The project represents a massive expansion of the existing Al Maktoum Airport, which is located over 20 miles southwest of Dubai. Opened in 2010, Al Maktoum was originally built for cargo flights, but in 2022, it received an estimated 877,400 commercial passengers, so it has plenty of infrastructure on which to build.

How Big Is Dubai’s New Al Maktoum International Airport?

Once completed, the new “airport city” will be over five times the size of Dubai International Airport (DXB): to put this into perspective, DXB is already ranked the world’s top hub for international passenger traffic, so its scale will be awe-inspiring.

The new Dubai airport will sprawl across 70 square kilometres and will have 400 aircraft gates and five parallel runways, as well as cutting-edge technology to maximise efficiency. It’s anticipated that the facility will handle 12 million tonnes of cargo per year.

Writing on X (formerly Twitter), Dubai’s ruler HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said that Al Maktoum International Airport will have “the world’s largest capacity”, handling up to 260 million passengers per year. It’s intended to fully replace Dubai International Airport within ten years.

How Much Will The Dubai’s New Airport Cost To Build?

With building getting underway now, the new Dubai airport’s current cost is Dh128 billion ($34.8 billion). Based on this projection, it is already the world’s most expensive airport.

Who Is Designing The Futuristic New Dubai Airport?

London-based firm Leslie Jones Architecture is designing Dubai’s new airport and is something of an expert in the sector, having designed airports around the world, from Doha to Hong Kong and London Heathrow Terminal 5. Digital impressions of the studio’s new design show a futuristic, undulating white canopy with a series of green oases and palm trees beneath; the concept is said to be user-centric and spatially efficient, both vital in a development of this size. There will be a number of shopping complexes and hotels on the site, as well as centres for executive, private and royal jets.

Al Maktoum International Airport Operational Date: When Will Dubai’s New Airport Open?

The first phase of Dubai’s new airport is expected to be completed within ten years, which will see the airport accommodate 150 million passengers annually.

What Impact Will Dubai’s New Airport Have on The City?

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum tweeted that the building of an “entire city” around the Dubai’s new airport will lead to employment and housing for up to one million people. “It will host the world’s leading companies in the logistics and air transport sectors,” he said. “We are building a new project for future generations… Dubai will be the world’s airport, its port, its urban hub, and its new global centre.


Architectural Digest

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