Abu Dhabi plans to build a new airport after 2008

Construction of an “interim solution” second terminal is due for completion by August 2005

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By  Eudore Chand Published  April 2, 2005

Abu Dhabi is picking up speed on new projects, which are hoped to bring about a new round of construction activity in the UAE’s largest emirate. The latest in a raft of new projects is the plan to build a new airport after 2008, and to go into overdrive on setting up new tourism zones. Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, two of the UAE’s seven emirates, have already identified tourism as a key driver of growth, and have set aside billions of dollars for the construction of facilities and services that include airport expansions and projects such as Dubailand, Mangrove Island and Al Hamra expansion projects. By 2008, around 37 new four- and five-star hotels are confirmed for construction in the UAE. Abu Dhabi is fast catching up and has just announced a multibillion-dollar ‘gateway city’ to Abu Dhabi along the Al Raha beach. It will be a tourism-oriented development. To cater for the increase in traffic flow at Abu Dhabi’s airport, the emirate is constructing a second terminal at the existing airport to help reduce the pressures on facilities until its new airport is built. The second terminal will be operational by August 2005; by 2008 it will have the capacity to handle 8 million passengers annually, after which a new airport will be built, according to a top Abu Dhabi official. “A second terminal is being constructed just 700 m from Terminal 1 as an interim solution until a new airport is built,” explained Dr Sheikh Ahmad bin Saif Al Nahyan, the chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Civil Aviation. “Terminal 2 is being built as a fast-track project to be ready by August this year. It will have two separate buildings, one for arrivals and one for departures,” he said, but did not reveal the investment outlay. Terminal 2 will be connected to Terminal 1 with service transport for quick transfers and transit at both terminals. “The new terminal will provide all services and will serve a host of airlines. There are infrastructure modifications being undertaken to ease the flow of traffic. At Terminal 1, we are looking at a host of re-modifications and re-distribution of services,” continued Sheikh Ahmad, adding that details will be unveiled shortly. To accommodate more aircraft, the airport is building nine new aircraft stands away from the terminal. “We are expecting high growth in traffic and Etihad Airways is also expanding fast. Therefore, this programme is fast-tracked with approval from the higher authorities,” Wam quoted Sheikh Ahmad as saying. The airport handled 5.4 million passengers in 2004, 22% more than the previous year. Prospects for similar growth figures are projected for 2006 and the coming years. The Abu Dhabi Duty Free has already signed up 1250 m2 of space at the second terminal, said Mohammad Mounib, ADDF general manager. ADDF earned revenues of US $93 million in 2004, up 12% over 2003. Meanwhile, Wam quoted reports that Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has plans to create tourism zones in the emirate, where hospitality, tourism, entertainment and leisure facilities will be built together with real estate options. “Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority will act as the catalyst in driving and co-ordinating the growth and development of the emirate’s tourism infrastructure, facilities and services,” according to Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, the ADTA chairman. “Tourism zones will be set up and many additional hotels and leisure facilities will be created. Some of these projects will be announced shortly,” he said. He added that the authority also plans to develop Abu Dhabi’s many islands as tourism spots “We will utilise the natural assets of Abu Dhabi, such as islands, but the private sector will be encouraged to invest with whom we plan to work closely,” he said. Sheikh Tahnoon said that the authority’s focus will be on tourism promotion, development and regulation. “We will work with hotels, airlines, destination management companies and other travel-related organisations in Abu Dhabi to promote the emirate and raise its international profile as an upmarket destination.” In parallel with its promotional activity, the authority will drive development in the emirate as part of the diversification plans. “Building the tourism infrastructure is our goal here, along with provision of other facilities for tourists”, he said, adding that the regulation and classification of Abu Dhabi’s tourism sector is a third area of focus. Mubarak Al Muhairi, the authority’s director general, said plans are underway to add another 20 000 hotel rooms over the next 10 years to the present 7500 rooms in the emirate of Abu Dhabi.

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