The Middle East seems to be shaping up as the new centre of global aviation, a CNN report suggests.
Less than two weeks ago, the newest airport in the region commenced operations. Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar, is expected to handle 50 million passengers a year.
To explore trade and tourism opportunities to the fullest, Doha is trying to diversify its economy. In an interview for CNN, Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al Baker said that the new airport presents endless opportunities and allows for the provision of better services.
According to aviation analytics company JLS Consulting, the government of Qatar recognises the important role aviation plays in the economy. As the company's director John Strickland points out, aviation supports trade and provides stability for the development of tourism.
Doha is following in the footsteps of Dubai, where efforts concentrated in the aviation industry are bearing fruit. Dubai saw the opening of its second airport, Dubai World Central, last year. Plans have already emerged for its annual capacity to be increased from the 120 million agreed upon during the initial design phase to more than 200 million. CNN quoted the CEO of Dubai Airports, Paul Griffiths, as saying that the aim is to turn Dubai World Central into the largest airport in the world.
Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is building the new Midfield Terminal Complex at Abu Dhabi International Airport. The complex is scheduled to open in 2017, with annual capacity estimated at 30 million passengers.
The aviation hive in the Middle East is definitely buzzing with activity. The Gulf hubs are in a unique position to tap into the expanding markets of Asia, Africa and Latin America. As Strickland notes, airlines operating out of these Gulf airports are better equipped than many carriers in other parts of the world.