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02.05.2006 Middle East

Dubai unveils $33 bln airport city

By Reuters

DUBAI (Reuters) - Gulf tourism and trade hub Dubai said on Tuesday it plans to invest $33 billion in building what it said would be the world's largest airport and city in Jebel Ali, home to the region's biggest free-trade zone.

A statement by organizers of the state-run project, Dubai World Central, said the multi-phase 140 sq km (54 square mile) development around the planned international airport will include a cargo city, residential and commercial quarters and a Golf course.

Dubai is pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into infrastructure and real estate developments, making it home to an estimated 17 percent of the world's cranes.

"Dubai World Central International Airport (JXB) ... when complete will be the world's largest with a capacity equal to that currently of Chicago's O'Hare and London's Heathrow (combined)," it said.

"Dubai World Central will be a new city where eventually some 750,000 people will live and work," it said, adding the project was designed to support Dubai's aviation, tourism, commercial and logistics requirements until 2050.

The airport will have a capacity of 120 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of cargo per year. It will have six 4.5 kilometer runways capable of receiving all aircraft, including the double-decker Airbus 380.

The three-terminal airport will dedicate one of its hubs to low-cost airlines, it said. It will be linked to the Dubai International Airport via an express rail system.

Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport increased 14 percent in 2005 to 24 million people compared with 2004.

The airport expects 28 million passengers and 1.5 million tonnes of freight in 2006.

On Monday, Dubai announced plans to build the world's largest hotel as part of a $27 billion resort project to spearhead its drive to become a global tourism hub.