The UAE has benefited from the general economic boom, whose thriving economy is fuelled by high oil prices and the rapidly growing tourism industry. With the Middle Eastern countries now looking to tourism to help diversify their economies, the region’s aviation sector is also growing at a very fast pace. The air transport industry in the Middle East is experiencing the fastest rate of expansion in the world.
At the 10th Dubai Air Show in 2007, Dubai’s national carrier Emirates, announced a nearly US$100billion in sales and brought the world attention to the Middle East airlines. Airbus reportedly logged 297 orders of narrow and wide-bodies aircraft and Boeing 155 during the five-day show held in Dubai. Longer-term developments also gathered apace during the air show as Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) and Mubadala, two state owned firms with ambitions to develop service-based aviation industries signed numerous partnerships. Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, EADS and CAE anticipate working relationships with the two UAE firms in the future. Mubadala Development Company and Germany’s Lufthansa Technical Training intend to set up a aviation training center in Abu Dhabi. Dubai World Central Aviation City will have the world’s largest maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) center in Jebel Ali. Spatial Aviation Safety Training Academy will build the US$37 million, 14,000 square meter facility to cater to commercial airlines, private and corporate jet operators and light fixed wing crew. Mubadala Development Company and EADS are in talks to manufacture composite materials used in the modern commercial aircrafts in Abu Dhabi.
The United Arab Emirates has acknowledged the importance of aviation as a vital artery that links it to the rest of the world. Building on centuries of tradition as a trading hub in the path for Africa, South Asia and the Gulf, the modern UAE offers a highly energized business environment coupled with the infrastructure and resources to service the full spectrum of global business needs.
Abu Dhabi and Dubai are in an era when they function as major hubs for airlines from across the globe. Dubai World Central International Airport is a new airport under construction near Jebel Ali. It will be officially known as Al Maktoum International Airport. It will be the main part of Dubai World Central., a planned residential, commercial and logistics complex scheme. Dubai World Central is the world's first truly integrated logistics platform, with all transport modes, logistics and value added services, including manufacturing and assembly, in a single bonded and Free Zone environment. Built for the future, Dubai World Central International Airport has been designed to handle all next-generation aircraft, including the Airbus A 380 super-jumbo. Up to four aircraft will be able to land simultaneously, 24 hours a day, minimizing in-air congestion. The region's biggest airport, Dubai World Central will include six parallel runways, 4.5 km in length, multiple concourses, 16 cargo terminals and 12 million ton capacity.
The growth and transformation of UAE into a major business and tourist hub is also evident by the tremendous increase in passengers, cargo and aircraft movements over the past few years.
Dubai International, the aviation and cargo center of the Middle East and the world’s emerging hub, was the world’s fastest growing airport in 2007 in terms of international passenger throughput with a growth of 19.31 per cent. The airport handled a total of 34.34 million passengers; well over the projected 33 million for the year. The record growth is likely to propel Dubai International higher on ACI’s (Airports Council International) list of the world’s busiest airports (in terms of international passengers). In 2006 Dubai International was ranked 10 on the list with a passenger throughput of 28.78 million.
Emirates Airlines, one of the world’s most profitable international airlines, has a fleet of 113 (+194 orders) to 88 destinations in 55 countries. Etihad Airways, the three-year-old UAE national carrier, currently operates a fleet of 38 (+65 orders) to 44 destinations. The first low cost carrier in the region Air Arabia has a large network to 37 destinations. The emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has recently launched UAE’S fourth national carrier RAK Airways.