Abu Dhabi is
well on its way to becoming a regional industrial center, investing
over $3 billion to develop its petrochemical base and increase
its upstream gas handling capacity alone.
Abu Dhabi is also pushing to establish itself as a leading transit
center and tourist destination, upgrading and expanding all elements
of its infrastructure and transport facilities.
International Airport is playing a key role as the major entry
point to the emirate; passenger arrivals are increasing year by
Mohairbi, Abu Dhabi International Airport's director, says overall
traffic through the airport in 1998 reached 3.4 million, an increase
of 8 percent over 1997. This included a 7 percent increase in
departures, a 10 percent increase in arrivals and an 8 percent
increase in transit passengers.
Of the total,
33 percent were from the Middle East, 19 percent were from Gulf
Cooperation Council countries and 25 percent were from Asia, including
13 percent from India. Another 11 percent of passengers were from
Europe, with a variety of other nationalities making up the final
says more than 40 airlines now operate from the airport, linking
it to more than 90 international airports. Over the past year
a number of new airlines were attracted by the airport's strategic
location and first-class facilities. ''During 1998, we signed
agreements with two charter airlines, Britannia and LTU, under
which they will utilize Abu Dhabi for their technical stopovers
and as a transit point during flights between Europe and the Far
East, '' he says.
A number of
new airlines also began operations out of Abu Dhabi during 1998.
These included Shaheen Air, Air Maldives, Air Afrique and Czech
Airlines. Their entry has added northern Pakistan, the Maldives,
West Africa and Mauritania to the countries and regions connected
to Abu Dhabi and increased the choice and flexibility of routes
available to passengers.
is confident that the major expansion under way in all aspects
of the airport will confirm Abu Dhabi's role as both a major transit
point and a major destination for the Gulf and the wider Middle
East region well into the 21st century. ''Once our airport expansion
program is complete,'' he says, ''Abu Dhabi International Airport
will be offering services in keeping with the promise of the new