One of the first posts I ever wrote on The Interpreter in late 2007 was about Dubai's evolution towards becoming 'the centre of the world'. That is, a global aviation hub geographically placed to allow one-stop travel between any two places on the globe. Now Vanity Fair has this vivid portrait of Dubai's breakneck aviation expansion:
In January 2013, Dubai International opened Concourse A—aviation’s first facility dedicated entirely to Airbus A380 superjumbos. Located in Terminal 3, it is a magnificent building. Huge first- and business-class lounges connect directly to the A380 upper decks; economy-class passengers board from the lower level. The new concourse has already increased Dubai’s traffic to 75 million passengers a year, moving it past London’s Heathrow as the world’s busiest international airport. By 2018 that number is expected to pass 90 million, overtaking vast domestic hubs such as Atlanta and Beijing.
And yet this is just the beginning. A few miles across the tiny emirate another enormous, five-runway airport is under construction. For now, Dubai World Central serves partly as a cargo airport. But late in the next decade Emirates airline plans to transfer its operations there. The result: by 2025 more than 220 million travelers will be passing through the city’s airports annually. For Dubai, world domination is literally on the horizon.
It's worth reading on for the stuff about the 'four tectonic shifts' in world aviation.
Photo by Flickr user Frans Zwart.