Mega Projects – Al Maktoum – Dubai International Airport

Mega Projects – Al Maktoum – Dubai International Airport

In one of our recent blog posts, we explored some of The Largest Construction Projects in the world in 2019, to gain more of an insight on the sheer scale of these developments. Amongst them was the Al Maktoum international airport in Dubai. As part of our Mega Projects series, we’re going to take a look at this enormous construction project in more detail, exploring exactly how big this project is expected to be, what will be included and the effects this is likely to have on the economy of Dubai.

woman at airport

Introducing the Project

The expansion of Dubai’s international airport was first approved in 2014, and the $32.67bn project will ease the pressure on Dubai’s other international airport, which is limited in terms of future growth. Al Maktoum airport is planned to handle more than 220 million passengers each year, making it the biggest in terms of size and passenger capacity in the next thirty years. The passenger terminal was first opened in October 2013, with the view of hosting up to five million visitors per year, with the potential to expand to seven million over time. In March 2016, the project to enhance passenger handling capacity began and by mid-2018, the new and improved airport could hold more than 26 million a year. However, the mega project itself will significantly increase these numbers, and is planned to be executed in two phases, with the first having started in 2017.

Phase One

The first part of expansion features the construction of two 4.5km-long runways that have the required space between them to be able to operate at the same time. Advances in flying technology means that both of these will feature an instrument landing system (Cat IIIB) which enables them to land even when visibility is particularly low. With an estimated capacity of 35 million passengers a year, this will keep delays to a bare minimum, essential for what will be such a highly populated establishment. The project includes a brand-new 165,000m terminal towards the west end of the airport in order to help ease the influx of people traffic on existing facilities. Phase one also includes the construction of two 385,000m2 satellite concourses, which can hold 65 million passengers every year. This includes a wide-body aircraft contact stand that can host up to 200 planes, split evenly between Code E and Code F aircraft. Phase one concludes with the construction of six new train tracks, connecting each of the terminals with the concourses, split by two each for arrivals, departures and transfers. This requires the construction of three stations at each concourse and another in the west terminal, each with the latest, state-of-the-art technology to ensure smooth transition around the airport.

Inside of an airport

Phase Two

Phase two is expected to finish the project, bringing the overall passenger handling capacity to 65 million per year. Another two runways of similar size to the aforementioned will be constructed, along with two more concourses and another terminal to the east side of the area and the expansion of facilities means that yet more trains are needed so as to make quick and easy transitions from terminal to terminal. Thus, phase two will entail a further six train tracks and yet more stations for every concourse and terminal. The sheer size of this project is difficult to comprehend, but the nature of airports means that every building is spread out to accommodate runways and it is the accessing of each area that make the project such a monumental development to the airport industry.


The airport is significantly larger than existing airports and use of modern technology is expected to be utilised so as to keep the passenger journey as simple and safe as possible. Both biometrics and smart passenger tracking will enable seamless passenger movement and the airport is specifically designed to accommodate typical processes at airports, including transitioning from terminal to terminal and a straightforward arrivals system.

Man at airport

The Completed Project

Upon completion, the airport’s built-up area is expected to cover around 1.57 million square feet and will boast a new check-in hall with 64 counters for economy travel and 10 dedicated to business class passengers. A new immigration hall is expected to host 55 border control counters, utilising modern technologies to ensure large numbers of people can pass through as quickly as possible, keeping queues to a minimum. The airport will have 12 new boarding lounges for passengers to relax in ahead of their flight and expand upon existing immigration transfer and security areas to maximise safety.  A new baggage screening area and three new carousels will be added to the existing arrivals hall. It is thought that, when all of the above is completed, the airport will be able to handle over 220 million passengers a year.

airport at night

As anyone who has completed a large construction project can attest, delays on this type of development are to be expected, perhaps somewhat fitting given that delays are all but guaranteed in some airports! However, the project is well underway and is undoubtedly going to revolutionise the economy of Dubai. You’re probably lucky enough not have to consider train tracks and runway regulations upon planning a construction project of your own, but there is the small matter of planning. If you need a structural engineer in Cornwall or Devon, don’t hesitate to contact someone here at Martin Perry, who will be able to provide a high-quality service from start to finish.


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