Even at 1:00 am, the Dubai international airport is bustling with activity, with enough languages being spoken to make one feel they were at a United Nations convention.
Air passengers arrive hour after hour from Australia, India, China and many other countries around the world. Few of travelers however venture from the terminal, which is as long as 24 football fields. They are there to catch their connecting flights to other parts of the world.
These passengers may never have seen the Middle East if it were not for three rapidly growing and ambitious airlines owned by Middle Eastern governments. Those three airlines are Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline.
For generations, many international fliers made stopovers in Amsterdam, London and Paris, but today more and more are switching planes in Abu Dhabi, Doha and Dubai. This has made this region of the world the new crossroads for global travel.
This switch has been driven by both the airlines and airports, all through the backing of governments, which see air travel as a way of making their individual country bigger players in the world’s ever growing global economy.
Air travelers have been won over through the new aircraft the airlines have purchased and the top of the line service offered. However, the key behind the incredible growth of the airlines is geography. The hubs in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are a flight of eight hours from nearly two-thirds of the population in the world, including a huge middle class that is growing in China, India and southeastern Asia that is more eager than ever to travel.
Air passenger counts traveling through the Dubai airport has increased to 51 million annually from 28.8 million, an increase of 77%, with more travelers than the JKF International Airport in New York.