Dubai Ruler Reveals Plans For World’s Largest Airport With $55 Billion Price Tag

Bigger is always better.

Dubai Ruler Reveals Plans For World’s Largest Airport With $55 Billion Price Tag

Image: Facts/DMARGE

Dubai is planning the world’s largest airport, relocating from congested DXB as its ambitious infrastructure expansion continues.

Dubai may have endured some pretty poor press in recent weeks as the wake of savage storms saw its airport grind to a halt, but that hasn’t stopped its leader from bouncing back into the headlines with ambitious plans for a world-beating new airport that will dwarf its $5 billion counterpart in Abu Dhabi.

In a move that could recalibrate massive swathes of global aviation, Dubai’s ruler — Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum — has announced plans to construct the world’s largest airport. With a staggering price tag of 55 billion AUD (c. $35 billion USD), the project aims to elevate Dubai’s already heady status as the foremost hub for international travel and commerce alike.

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Underpinning this sizable endeavour is the full-blown relocation of operations from the always-bustling Dubai International Airport (DXB) to the sprawling new Al Maktoum International Airport at Dubai World Central. Parked deep in the city-state’s southern desert expanse, this shift aims to alleviate the congestion endlessly plaguing DXB and lay the all-important groundwork for further growth and development in the wider region.

Reminiscent of traditional Bedouin tents, the new airport’s design will feature a sprawling terminal complex, five parallel runways and 400 aircraft gates. Embodying Dubai’s long-held vision of becoming the global travel hub, the building’s aesthetic is said to reflect its broader hopes of uniting cultures and economies on a monumental scale.

The airport’s exterior is said to resemble traditional Bedouin tents. Image: Pinterest

Dubai’s resilience in the face of adversity — most recently symbolised by the storms but most notably by its flagship carrier, Emirates, rebounding with incredible strength and speed in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic — shows its proven ability to maintain its status as the lynchpin of worldwide flight networks but also puts it in good stead for this planned expansion.

The exponential growth potential of Dubai’s tourism sector provides all the backing that this behemoth of an infrastructure project needs. With record-breaking visitor numbers — 17.15 million international overnight visitors in 2023 and average hotel occupancy of 77% — Dubai’s appeal as a premium destination shows no signs of slowing. However, this influx of travellers has placed huge strain on existing infrastructure, necessitating bold initiatives such as this to sustain long-term growth.

“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.”

Sheikh Mohammed

While the announcement heralds a new era of opportunity, it also serves as a reminder of the many challenges that come part and parcel of such endeavours. Past financial pressures — most notably exposed in the 2008-9 financial crisis — underscore the need for careful planning. Dubai remains determined to push on with plans and promises all the prudence required…

While we’ve no doubt that this new airport will be a triumph in the eyes of locals and visitors alike, one thing remains to be seen: will it be a tad more waterproof than DBX, or should I pack my wellies for my next touchdown in the desert?