Big Airport Little City: Exclusive Interview with Anita Mehra Homayoun of Dubai International Airpor

is one of the worlds` fastest growing airports,
having grown hand in hand with Dubai City to service this increasingly popular destination. Boasting world class business and leisure facilities, Dubai City offers both a dynamic international business centre and a laid - back tourist escape.

From nine airlines serving some twenty destinations in 1969, Dubai International Airport has grown to accommodate one hundred airlines connecting to one hundred and forty destinations in the year 2002. On average, 1.3 million passengers currently pass through Dubai Airport monthly - that`s sixteen million a year. Today, not only is Dubai Airport one of the fastest growing airports in the world according to ACI traffic statistics, but it is also recognised as the aviation hub of the Middle East. Anita Mehra Homayoun
, Marketing and Corporate Communications Director speaks to ITN about this explosive and remarkable growth.

“Dubai has a long history of being a trading post”, she begins. “Its geographical location provided the ideal stopover between the East and the West”. Established in 1959, Dubai Airport is located only four kilometres away from the city centre. The development is the result of the far-sighted vision of the late ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. He chose the site not only for its proximity to town but also with future expansion in mind. Anita continues. “Aviation was a 20th century extension of Dubai`s long standing experience as a trading, transport and communications centre”.

In a very short time-span, Dubai International Airport has grown from an airfield into an aviation hub. Now about to sign its 100th airline, I asked Anita whether Dubai Airport ever expected such a phenomenal growth rate. She revealed that the Government of Dubai and the Department of Civil Aviation is working towards attracting even more new airlines, passengers, tourists and businesses to Dubai.

“According to projections Dubai International Airport expects thirty million passengers by the year 2010. Currently it has the capacity to handle twenty two million passengers a year. With the completion of the second phase of expansion, Dubai International Airport will have the capacity to handle close to sixty million passengers a year”.


The Department of Civil aviation is investing US$2.5bn into this expansion. Commenting on their objectives, Anita tells me: “The idea is to have a facility ready before the demand comes rather than the other way round. With the numerous other developments within the emirate of Dubai, the projections will hold good”.

The growth rate for this airport is astonishing. Statistics reveal a consistent and progressive increase in passenger numbers year on year for the last two decades. In 2001, despite the impact of global events, it registered a 10% growth in passengers` throughput, which totalled 13.5 million. All this for a city with a population of
850, 000! 

Anita informs me that business travellers account for a significant proportion of passenger movement, increasingly so in the last few years.
Dubai is one of the most successful business centres in the region, offering top-notch facilities such as banking, telecommunications, state-of-the-art container terminals, sea-ports and free trade zones. Dubai also boasts the Dubai World Trade Centre, which has emerged as the best exhibition and conference centre in the Gulf region, hosting numerous international fairs and events. Consequently, the centre attracts buyers and sellers globally.

As an appealing destination for business travellers, I asked Anita whether the Dubai Airport could cater for this particular clientele. She informed me that the airport currently offers Internet facilities and will shortly be introducing a number of new services.

She added “Sheikh Rashid Terminal has a one hundred room five star hotel which offers a state-of-the-art business and conference centre called Connect. There are six conference rooms available - five rooms accommodating between six and eighteen persons each and one conference room for sixty persons. Each has state-of-the-art communication systems, eight work stations and full secretarial and office services support facilities available”.

Embracing the sophistication and innovation of the 21st century, Dubai has also managed to maintain its local traditions and is equally renowned as a tourist destination. Anita describes some of the delights that Dubai can offer tourists: “Dubai is one of the safest destinations in the world, offering modern architecture juxtaposed with old-world charm. It is a thriving metropolitan city offering tourists a wide variety of choice in terms of shopping, dining and entertainment”.

Increasingly recognised as one of the top airports world-wide, Anita attributes Dubai International Airport`s success to several key factors: “Open skies policies, 24 hour operations, state of the art facilities, a very high standard of service and competitive landing charges”.

Recently awarded Air BP for airport security, Dubai Airport recognises the importance of security. Since safety has become such a great issue in the world of aviation, I asked Anita how Dubai Airport ensures that safety standards are met. “Dubai has highly trained personnel and the best equipment possible to maintain safety standards. It is on record that emergency response time at DXB is 70 seconds as compared to the ICAO requirement of 2 minutes”.

Although a recurring complaint from passengers in many airports is the delay caused by security procedures. Anita comments: “Dubai International Airport has very few airport delays ever. Security standards have always been very high and this has not changed much post 9/11. It continues to maintain the same high standards”.

Anita tells me that “Online marketing is extremely important as it introduces Dubai to the rest of the world”. Dubai Airport has a beautifully constructed website, that can be found at: - at present this is in English, but it will soon be available in Arabic.