Dubai approves designs for $35bn Al Maktoum airport

28 April 2024

Register for MEED’s guest programme 

Dubai has approved the updated designs and timelines for its largest construction project, the $35bn expansion of Al Maktoum International airport.

“Today, we approved the designs for the new passenger terminals at Al Maktoum International Airport, and commencing construction of the building at a cost of AED128bn [$35bn] as part of Dubai Aviation Corporation’s strategy,” UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a social media post on X (formerly Twitter) on 28 April.

Covering an area of 70 square kilometres in the south of Dubai, the airport will have five parallel runways and five terminal buildings with a total of 400 aircraft gates. It will be five times the size of the existing Dubai International airport and have the world’s largest passenger handling capacity of 260 million passengers a year. For cargo, it will have the capacity to handle 12 million tonnes a year.

The government of Dubai said that the plan is for all operations from Dubai International airport to be transferred to Al Maktoum International airport within 10 years.

The government statement added that the project will create housing demand for 1 million people around the airport.

Project history

The expansion of Al Maktoum International airport is a long-standing project. Also known as Dubai World Central (DWC), it was officially launched in 2014, with a different design to the one approved in April 2024. Back then, it involved building the biggest airport in the world by 2050, with the capacity to handle 255 million passengers a year.

An initial phase, due to be completed in 2030, involved taking the airport’s capacity to 130 million passengers a year. Altogether, the development was to cover an area of 56 square kilometres.

Progress on the project slipped as the region grappled with the impact of lower oil prices and Dubai focused on developing the Expo 2020 site. Tendering for work on the project then stalled with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in early 2020.

Al-Maktoum airport is needed because Dubai International can not be expanded significantly. One of the key challenges is runway capacity. It only has two runways, and with built-up urban areas on either side of the airport, there is no available land on which to build new runways. 

Another driver for the project is regional competition. Dubai International is the region’s largest airport, and Emirates is the region’s largest airline. Plans in Saudi Arabia now challenge that position.

At the end of 2022, the kingdom launched the masterplan for King Salman International airport in Riyadh. The plan is to accommodate up to 120 million passengers by 2030 and 185 million by 2050. Contractors in Saudi Arabia are forming joint ventures to bid for construction work on that project.


MEED’s April 2024 special report on the UAE includes:

> COMMENT: Non-oil activity underpins UAE economy
> GVT & ECONOMY: Non-oil activity underpins UAE economy

> BANKING: UAE banks seize the moment
> UPSTREAM: Adnoc oil and gas project spending sees steep uptick
> DOWNSTREAM: UAE builds its downstream and chemical sectors

> POWER: UAE marks successful power project deliveries
> WATER: Dubai tunnels project dominates UAE pipeline
> DUBAI CONSTRUCTION: Dubai real estate boosts construction sector

> ABU DHABI CONSTRUCTION: Abu Dhabi makes major construction investments

https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11720115/main.jfif
Colin Foreman
Related Articles
  • NWC seeks interest for privatisation programme

    21 May 2024

    Saudi Arabia's National Water Company (NWC) has invited interest from international and local water companies to bid for the second-phase packages of the state-backed utility's long-term operation and maintenance (LTOM) programme.

    NWC expects to receive responses to its expression of interest (EoI) request by 6 June.

    This phase is divided into 10 packages encompassing 116 existing sewage treatment plants with a total treatment capacity of about 2.47 million cubic meters a day (cm/d).

    Source: NWC

    NWC, which provides water distribution, sewerage collection and wastewater treatment services throughout Saudi Arabia, said the LTOM form of agreement is similar to a build-operate-transfer structure and risk allocation.

    Earlier this month, NWC announced the completion of contract awards for the first phase of the LTOM programme.

    According to NWC asset privatisation director, Richard Onses, the first phase comprises eight packages covering 4.2 million cubic metres of sewage water treated every day for the next 15 years.

    The average cost of a cubic metre of treated sewage is SR0.5, which is less than $c 15 cents including capital and operational expenditure and electricity costs.

    The LTOM programme aims to extend the remaining life of NWC's sewage treatment plant assets through rehabilitation and debottlenecking, as well as to upgrade and improve processes to comply with treated sewage effluent (TSE) quality standards.

    The projects also aim to reduce the environmental impact of the assets and processes on the community.

    NWC's advisory team for the first phase of its LTOM programme includes US/India-based Synergy International, Germany's Fichtner and UK-headquartered Clifford Chance as financial, technical and legal advisers, respectively. 

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11796991/main.jpg
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • SWCC receives bids for four desalination plants

    21 May 2024

     

    Saudi Arabia's main producer of desalinated water, Saline Water Conversion Company (SWCC), has received bids for four seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) desalination plants with a total combined capacity of about 2 million cubic metres a day (cm/d)

    According to an industry source, bids were submitted on 14 May for the Yanbu SWRO project, which has a baseline capacity of 300,000 cm/d.

    Bids were submitted five days later for three SWRO facilities. The tendered projects and their water desalination capacities are:

    • Shuaiba 6 SWRO: 545,000 (cm/d)
    • Ras Al Khair SWRO: 600,000 cm/d
    • Jubail SWRO: 600,000 cm/d

    The four contracts are being procured using an engineering, procurement and construction model, in contrast to the SWRO facilities being procured on a public-private partnership basis by the state offtaker, Saudi Water Partnership Company.

    SWCC has tendered the contract to build the Shuaiba 6 SWRO before.

    It was most recently tendered in 2022, with a team comprising the local firms Wetico and Alfanar, and Italy's Fisia Italimpianti submitting bids for the contract.

    SWCC is the world's largest producer of desalinated water with a capacity of at least 6.6 million cm/d. Plants utilising older and energy-intensive techniques such as multi-stage flash technology account for the majority of its current capacity.

    According to data from regional projects tracker MEED Projects, SWCC has awarded several SWRO plants in the past few years, including:

    • Ras Al Khair production system expansion: 200,000 cm/d
    • Jubail SWRO plant: 1,000,000 cm/d
    • Shuqaiq 1 SWRO plant: 400,000 cm/d.

    MEED's April 2024 special report on Saudi Arabia includes:

    > GVT & ECONOMY: Saudi Arabia seeks diversification amid regional tensions
    > BANKING: Saudi lenders gear up for corporate growth
    > UPSTREAM: Aramco spending drawdown to jolt oil projects
    > DOWNSTREAM: Master Gas System spending stimulates Saudi downstream sector

    > POWER: Riyadh to sustain power spending
    > WATER: Growth inevitable for the Saudi water sector
    > CONSTRUCTION: Saudi gigaprojects propel construction sector
    > TRANSPORT: Saudi Arabia’s transport sector offers prospects

     

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11796584/main.gif
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • Ambitious projects rebrand engineering

    20 May 2024

     

    Over the past two decades, the Middle East has undergone a significant transformation driven by rapid urbanisation, economic diversification and geopolitical dynamics. The region has emerged as a global hub for trade, investment and innovation, with infrastructure playing a central role in facilitating this growth.

    According to Pierre Santoni, president of Europe, Middle East and Africa for Parsons Corporation, ongoing infrastructure investment has created a market that continues to offer strong growth opportunities for the construction industry.

    “Parsons is one of the oldest firms operating in the Middle East, which is a growing and well-funded market, with a team that is executing at a high level and our company has continued to make investments to drive growth in the business,” he says.

    “We had an outstanding fourth quarter and full year in 2023 with record results for total revenue, organic revenue growth, adjusted Ebitda and operating cash flow, as well as major contract awards in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar.”

    Changing focus

    The region’s transformation has led to an adjustment in priorities as pressure on existing infrastructure mounts, he notes.

    In the UAE, the focus in the early 2000s was primarily on developing landmarks and megaprojects that showcased the region’s ambition and prosperity. This era saw the construction of iconic structures such as the Palm Jumeirah, Burj Khalifa and, more recently, Etihad Rail, symbolising the country’s aggressive development plans.

    Over recent years, there has been a shift towards more sustainable and resilient infrastructure development, with the UAE government prioritising investments in transportation, utilities and smart city initiatives to enhance residents' quality of life and improve mobility and infrastructure.

    “The demographic trends, including rapid population growth and urbanisation, are placing strain on existing infrastructure networks, necessitating investments in expansion and modernisation,” says Santoni.

    Robust infrastructure is required to support the regional government’s economic diversification efforts, which are driving investment and growth in sectors such as tourism, technology and renewable energy. This includes the development of new highways, ports and transportation systems to facilitate trade and tourism.

    “The UAE has outlined a stable investment programme that includes the development of large transportation and construction schemes,” says Santoni. “We are working with the Abu Dhabi government on Plan Capital 2040 and it promises tremendous growth opportunities for Parsons.”

    Dubai also offers opportunities for growth due to the property market boom and the government’s plans for new infrastructure projects. 

    “Government spending in Dubai has accelerated post-Covid. There is a renewed optimism in the market through large-scale infrastructure projects and major real estate schemes,” Santoni adds.

    “Parsons is working closely with some of the major real estate developers in Dubai, such as Emaar and Dubai Properties.”

    Santoni says that although the market has a strong pipeline of upcoming projects, there will also be a focus on improving the infrastructure that already exists.

    “There is a lot of focus on improving the existing infrastructure; hence, we have added operations and maintenance services into our portfolio.”

    Beyond the UAE

    The UAE is just part of Parsons’ work in the GCC. It also has a significant presence elsewhere in the GCC, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The company has been operating in Saudi Arabia for over 65 years and is working on a wide range of major programmes in the country, including The Line at Neom, Riyadh Sports Boulevard, King Salman International Park and Diriyah Gate, among others.

    Santoni says, “Saudi Arabia is the fastest growing market globally and is a key market for us. The Vision 2030 projects are a driving force for much of our business in the kingdom and we expect robust growth in coming years.”

    “We are investing significantly in enhancing our engineering capabilities catering to the Saudi market,” he adds.

    The firm has also played a key role in delivering major infrastructure development schemes in Qatar, including for the 2022 World Cup. After a strong decade during the build-up to the event, Parsons worked on several other major schemes in the country, such as the Doha Metro, Qatar Rail, Seef Lusail, Hamad International airport expansion and Pearl Qatar.

    Santoni expects Qatar’s growth to be more reserved over the next few years as the country develops a new long-term strategic development plan.

    Attracting talent

    With so many projects proceeding, the challenge for engineering companies such as Parsons is attracting talent.

    “We have done a lot over the years to make Parsons an employer of choice for Saudi and UAE nationals, and we’re making significant investments in training and retention programmes to continue offering outstanding career opportunities,” says Santoni.

    Construction now has to compete with other industries such as technology and IT, which are often considered more exciting places to work. 

    Santoni says that this may change in the future as the world realises that there is an infrastructure gap that needs bridging with new and exciting projects, especially in the Middle East region. 

    “Many people have left the industry over the past few decades, but with the planned infrastructure projects, engineering is starting to look cool again.”

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11793674/main.gif
    Yasir Iqbal
  • UAE forms EV joint venture

    20 May 2024

    Two government entities in the UAE have formed a company, UAEV, to develop electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure across the country.

    The joint venture aims to provide fast and affordable charging infrastructure, said Sharif Salim Al Olama, undersecretary for energy and petroleum affairs at the of Energy & Infrastructure Ministry.

    Al Olama is chairman of the newly formed joint venture.

    Etihad Water & Electricity (Etihad WE), the partner for the joint venture, provides utility services in the UAE's northern emirates.

    Etihad WE CEO Yousif Ahmed Al Ali is a board member of UAEV.

    "Our intention is for the first UAEV charging points to be operational this year," said Al Olama during the launch of the company at the ongoing Electric Vehicle Innovation Summit in Abu Dhabi.

    MEED understands the company aims to install 100 EV chargers across the UAE by the end of the year, starting in the Northern Emirates of Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Fujairah and Sharjah.

    UAEV also plans to invest in similar infrastructure in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

    It expects to roll out 1,000 charging stations by 2030.

    The company aims to set up several tiers of EV charging stations.

    The initial tier caters to locations such as mosques and supermarkets, while another set of chargers will be installed in parking areas and on streets to ensure that drivers can top up their batteries whenever necessary.

    UAEV also aims to build what it calls "EV hubs", catering to cities and larger communities with wider services.

    UAEV will use fast and ultra-fast charging solutions to accelerate EV adoption. "We will provide advanced charging options to make EV ownership more appealing," said Al Ali.

    The initial phase of the infrastructure rollout will cater to passenger vehicles.

    Plans could extend the services to commercial vehicles and maritime fleets, as well as potentially providing hydrogen fuel to trucks and other types of fleet.

    Al Olama confirmed that discussions are under way to unify EV charging tariffs between the emirates.

    "This partnership is part of a clear mandate to deliver green mobility. There is a great potential and need from end-users," Al Olama said. "It is also an important step to help meet the UAE net-zero target by 2050."


    MEED's April 2024 special report on the UAE includes:

    > COMMENT: UAE rides high on non-oil boom
    > GVT & ECONOMY: Non-oil activity underpins UAE economy

    > BANKING: UAE banks seize the moment
    > UPSTREAM: Adnoc oil and gas project spending sees steep uptick
    > DOWNSTREAM: UAE builds its downstream and chemical sectors

    > POWER: UAE marks successful power project deliveries
    > WATER: Dubai tunnels project dominates UAE pipeline
    > DUBAI CONSTRUCTION: Dubai real estate boosts construction sector

    > ABU DHABI CONSTRUCTION: Abu Dhabi makes major construction investments

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11792353/main4504.jpg
    Jennifer Aguinaldo
  • WTTCO conducts Ras Mohaisen pipeline study

    20 May 2024

     

    State-backed Water Transmission & Technologies Company (WTTCO) is undertaking a feasibility study for the preferred procurement model and project structure for the contract to build or develop Saudi Arabia's water transmission pipeline project linking Ras Mohaisen, Al Baha and Mecca.

    The responsibility to procure the project has been transferred from Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC), which planned to implement the project on a build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) basis, to WTTCO.

    The final procurement model for the scheme will be decided once the feasibility project is completed, according to a source close to the project.

    The 300-kilometre water transmission scheme linking Ras Mohaisen, Al Baha and Mecca will have the capacity to transmit up to 400,000 cubic metres a day (cm/d) of water.

    In February 2022, SWPC prequalified the following 13 companies for the contract to develop the project:

    • Abdul Aziz Al Ajlan Sons Company for Commercial & Real Estate Investment (local)
    • Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (Taqa, UAE)
    • Al Bawani Water & Power (local)
    • Al Yamama Company (local)
    • China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investment Company (China)
    • China Harbour Engineering Company
    • Cobra Instalaciones y Servicios (Spain)
    • Gulf Investment Corporation (Kuwait)
    • Marubeni Corporation (Japan)
    • Mutlaq Al Ghowairi Company (local)
    • Mowah Company (local)
    • Utico (UAE)
    • Vision International Invest Company (local)

    The project aligns with the kingdom's National Water Strategy 2030, which aims to reduce the water demand-supply gap and have desalinated water account for 90% of the national urban supply to reduce reliance on non-renewable ground sources.

    The transaction advisory team for the first four independent water transmission pipeline projects in Saudi Arabia, which previously included the Ras Mohaisen project, comprised India's Synergy Consulting as financial adviser and the local Amer Al Amr and Germany's Fichtner Consulting as legal and technical advisers, respectively.


    MEED's April 2024 special report on Saudi Arabia includes:

    > GVT & ECONOMY: Saudi Arabia seeks diversification amid regional tensions
    > BANKING: Saudi lenders gear up for corporate growth
    > UPSTREAM: Aramco spending drawdown to jolt oil projects
    > DOWNSTREAM: Master Gas System spending stimulates Saudi downstream sector

    > POWER: Riyadh to sustain power spending
    > WATER: Growth inevitable for the Saudi water sector
    > CONSTRUCTION: Saudi gigaprojects propel construction sector
    > TRANSPORT: Saudi Arabia’s transport sector offers prospects

     

    https://image.digitalinsightresearch.in/uploads/NewsArticle/11791400/main.jpg
    Jennifer Aguinaldo