6.27 AM Monday, 22 April 2024
  • City Fajr Shuruq Duhr Asr Magrib Isha
  • Dubai 04:29 05:47 12:20 15:47 18:48 20:06
22 April 2024

World's 5 mega infrastructure developments: Dubai's 'Super Airport'

Al Maktoum International is part of the Dubai South, an economic free zone covering 56 square miles, which links up with the nearby Jebel Ali Port. Image courtesy: Dubai Airports website. (www.dubaiairports.ae)

By Parag Deulgaonkar

Dubai’s mega airport expansion project has been named among the world’s five mega infrastructure developments by UK-based Knight Frank.

In its Global Cities 2016 report, the global consultancy says: “With the world’s cities predicted to add 380 million new citizens in the next five years, new mass transit systems, power and utilities, and faster connections to markets will be needed.”

It goes on to list its choice of mega infrastructure projects that will be generating new business clusters, and creating real estate opportunities, which includes Dubai.

Under the headline ‘Super Airports’, the report says Al Maktoum International Airport, which opened in 2010, is to be expanded from a current freight capacity of one million tonnes of cargo per annum to 16 million tonnes.


“Passenger services began in 2013, and the plan is to increase to 220 million passengers a year. Dubai International, the world’s busiest airport, currently handles around 72 million passengers. Al Maktoum is part of the Dubai South, an economic free zone covering 56 square miles, which links up with the nearby Jebel Ali Port,” it said.

“A key word in today’s global cities is connectivity. A four-hour plane ride from Dubai allows access to one-third of the world’s population and an eight-hour ride to two-thirds. In addition, over the next decade, Dubai South is planned to be easily accessible by road, rail and sea. All of this will no doubt increase this location’s appeal for businesses,” Khawar Khan, Research Manager at Knight Frank Middle East.  

Diaa Noufal, Associate Partner MENA Research at Knight Frank, said: “Moreover, while the project is part of a long-term strategic masterplan, it also ties in with the World Expo 2020 that will be hosted at Dubai South and is expected to attract 25 million visitors. Our Global Cities 2016 Report positions Dubai’s on its watch list for global opportunities, highlighting Al Maktoum Airport for its anticipated role into the future of the city’s economy in the next decade. The report draws on local infrastructure projects to enhance Dubai’s transportation network to predict a rise in the city’s image as a commercial hub world-wide.”

According to Dubai Airports website, the airport will have a total of five parallel runways, 4.5 kilometre long, each separated by a minimum of 800 metres with the central terminal area (of the main terminal) incorporating basements that will house a fully automated baggage handling system capable of handling around 240 million bags per annum. The costs for the entire Dubai South (formerly Dubai World Central), including all clusters, is estimated in excess of Dh120 billion ($32 billion), the website states.

The report also added that Singapore’s Changi International Airport has a new fourth terminal under construction, which will increase the airport’s capacity to 82 million passengers a year with plans in advanced stage for a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport, which would allow it to handle up to 102 million passengers.

The other projects detailed are:

# China’s railway links

China is using rail to speed up transporting freight to Europe on routes running through Russia or via Iran and Turkey. By sea it takes cargo six weeks to travel from the inland manufacturing city of Chengdu to Europe, but now a rail freight service reaches Poland in two weeks. There is even a train service to Madrid from eastern China that takes three weeks. To improve connections, a $40 billion Silk Road Fund has been established to finance infrastructure projects abroad. There are also plans to link Kunming in southern China to Singapore via several lines running through Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Further afield, China is majority financing a new railway from the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi, which is under construction. This all forms part of China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ programme to enhance trade routes.

# African ambitions

A major infrastructure project in Kenya is Lapsset (Lamu Port and Lamu-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor). This consists of a new 30-berth port and oil refinery at Lamu, which will be connected to Nairobi and the borders of Ethiopia and South Sudan by rail, road and oil pipelines. In Ethiopia, a new Chinese funded railway line between Addis Ababa and the Red Sea port of Djibouti is expected to begin operations in 2016. Work has just completed in Addis Ababa on a light rail system for the city. In Nigeria, a Chinese firm has won the $12 billion contract to build an 870 mile railway between Lagos in the west and Calabar in the east. Construction has started on a new port to the east of Lagos at Lekki, with phase one scheduled for completion in 2018.

# Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor

The Delhi–Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) is a development zone that will be targeted for investment to build up new industries to support India’s rapid urbanisation. The project will be partly backed by Japanese investment. The transport backbone will be a freight rail line called the Dedicated Western Freight Corridor, which is intended to push down logistics costs in the region. Along the corridor, smart cities are to be developed, as well as three new seaports and six airports.

 # Panama and Suez Canals expansion

Currently ships queue up to transit the Panama Canal, whose original locks are restricted to ‘Panamax’ ships that carry around 5,000 containers. A new set of locks completes construction in 2016 that will offer passage to ‘post-Panamax’ ships that can carry up to 13,000 containers. Port facilities around the world are being expanded to handle post-Panamax ships, creating development opportunities for real estate investors. The Suez Canal’s lane has just been doubled in width to allow ships to sail in both directions, with plans to develop the land along its banks into an industrial zone. There is also more traffic on the North East Passage, where ships follow icebreakers from Europe to Asia through the Arctic Ocean. This could require new logistics centres to serve the route.