Author: Greg Lindsay
To arrive at midnight at Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport, as I did recently, is to glimpse the pulsing, non-stop flow of the new global economy. The airport, which runs full-tilt 24/7, is packed at all hours. Nigerian traders bound for Guangzhou mix with Chinese laborers needed in Khartoum, Indian merchants headed to clinch a deal in Nairobi, and United Nations staff en route to Kabul.
Dubai’s recent financial woes have forced the tiny Gulf state to scrap or scale back some of its more outlandish development schemes, including The World, an artificial archipelago shaped roughly like a world map. But one project has not flagged: the new concourse for Terminal 3. With construction continuing around the clock, the annex to what is already the world’s largest building is desperately needed to accommodate the fleet of 90 Airbus A380s ordered by Emirates, Dubai’s government-owned airline.
Lighting a cigarette in his modest airport office during a meeting two weeks ago, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, the chairman of Emirates, laughed as he recalled the widespread doubts that Emirates could pay for—and fill—its superjumbo jets. But it can, and it has, and despite the downturn, Dubai has stuck to its plans to develop the world’s largest airline from the world’s busiest hub. In public statements, Sheikh Ahmed has equated the future of Dubai with the future of Emirates, calling his country’s mammoth airport the center of a new Silk Road connecting China to the Middle East, India and Africa.
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