So rapid was the growth of Dubai’s aviation sector in the 1990s that the Emirate’s leaders concluded that a new mega-airport would be required in the first part of the 21st century. This new airport and its surrounding territory would be named Dubai World Central. Located approximately 60 km south of Dubai International Airport, a US$33-billion commitment was made to construct the world’s largest airport that would serve as the center of the world’s first purposely planned aerotropolis. The airport was initially designed with six runways capable of handling 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo annually.
Aerotropolis Business Concepts (John Kasarda) was retained by the Dubai Aviation City Corporation, which is responsible for all commercial components of Dubai World Central (eventually renamed Dubai South) to provide strategies and planning guidelines for the project. Work involved addressing optimal commercial land uses at Dubai World Central in light of macroeconomic forces shaping global airport city and aerotropolis development and commercial real estate market demand in Dubai; improved multimodal logistics infrastructure strategies, including connecting DWC to Jebel Ali Port and coordinating cargo transfers between Dubai International Airport and Dubai World Central while addressing chokepoints; electronic data interchange (EDI) needs to trace, track, and control cargo shipments; pathways to developing a global logistics hub at and around the new airport; and strategies to accelerate commercial real estate absorption at Dubai World Central, including placing the planned aerotropolis in the context of the Emirate’s urban growth. Special attention was given to the Dubai Logistics City, which was proposed as the initial driver of the aerotropolis.
A follow-on project was solicited by the Dubai Aviation City Corporation to propose strategies to enhance the development of the aviation sector in the Emirate. This involved assessments and making a series of recommendations for the efficient operation of Dubai’s aviation-enabled economy. Topics addressed included 1) optimizing airspace management at Dubai’s airports; 2) transitioning air traffic from Dubai International Airport to the new airport beginning with air cargo; 3) creating more seamless multimodal connectivity to realize Dubai’s full potential as cargo, trade, and tourism hub, and 4) establishing a process for continuous improvement to ensure that infrastructure at Dubai World Central and in Dubai is the best available to most long-term needs of Dubai’s aviation-dependent commercial sectors.