Dubai’s new airport will be five times the size of its current one and aims to be the largest in the world


Digital render of the planned entrance of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, set to be the biggest in the world upon completion.

Dubai Media Office

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Dubai’s leadership approved a 128 billion dirham ($35 billion) plan to build a new passenger terminal at the emirate’s Al Maktoum International Airport, which will make it five times bigger than Dubai’s main international airport in terms of size — and the biggest in the world.

“Al Maktoum International Airport will enjoy the world’s largest capacity, reaching up to 260 million passengers,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and prime minister of the UAE, said in a statement Sunday.

For reference, Dubai International Airport in 2023 serviced 86.9 million passengers, the second-highest in the world after Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the U.S.

All of the operations at Dubai International Airport, currently the second-busiest in the world by passenger traffic, will be transferred to it in the coming years, the statement said, adding that the new airport will have 400 aircraft gates and five parallel runways. “New aviation technologies will be employed for the first time in the aviation sector,” it added.

The Dubai Media Office shared digital renderings of the planned airport, which showed futuristic images of expansive airport infrastructure, enormous terminals and space-age looking designs.

The airport will be in Dubai South, at the southern end of the UAE’s glitzy commercial capital, where property and logistics development is underway. An entirely new city will be built around the airport, which the Dubai ruler said will create demand for housing for a million people.

Dubai’s current primary international airport is at the northern end of the emirate, meaning a likely dramatic change in traffic patterns and transport plans for travelers once the new travel hub is in full operation.

The new city around the airport “will host the world’s leading companies in the logistics and air transport sectors,” Sheikh Maktoum said. “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 Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, CEO of Dubai’s flagship Emirates Airline, posted pictures on X of himself with the Dubai ruler looking at plans for the new developments.

“Al Maktoum International will be the new home of @emirates, @flydubai, and all airline partners connecting the world to and from Dubai,” he wrote, referring to Emirates Airline and its low-cost subsidiary FlyDubai.

“We are investing to provide the best future travel experiences, best-in-world logistics capabilities, and to contribute to Dubai’s D33 economic agenda.”

Digital render of the planned exterior of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, set to be the biggest in the world upon completion.

Dubai Media Office

Digital render of the planned baggage claim area of Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport, set to be the biggest in the world upon completion.

Dubai Media Office

Dubai’s D33 agenda aims to double the size of the city’s economy by 2033, drawing in more investment, talent and economic diversification.

The Al Maktoum International airport, which also goes by the name of Dubai World Central (DWC), is set to cover 27 square miles when completed. In addition to its projected capacity of 260 million passengers annually, it also aims to have a capacity of 12 million tons of cargo per year.

The project’s “first phase” is expected to be ready within 10 years, with a capacity to accommodate 150 million passengers annually, the Emirates CEO said.

This article was originally published on CNBC