Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:21 | SYDNEY
Thursday 26 Nov 2020 | 01:21 | SYDNEY

Is Dubai the centre of the world?


Sam Roggeveen


7 November 2007 10:18

Having only ever visited Dubai on airline refuelling stops, I've never actually been into the city. But the view from the airport is enough to leave you slack-jawed at the scale of development. You occasionally hear that 25 per cent of the all the world's construction cranes are in Dubai, and although that sounds like a stretch, it is almost believable when you look down on the place from your aircraft seat window.

Now the aviation industry trade journal Flight Global reports that the first stage of Dubai's gargantuan new airport has been completed. The airport's name, Dubai World Central, hints at its ambition, and the fact that this new airport will be the world's largest gives Dubai a certain right to the coinage. 

But there may be more to it than just outright size. A recent report from the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (extracted in The Australian) suggests a more literal interpretation of the name. Of the Persian Gulf's aviation industry as a whole, the report says:

The region's relevance to global aviation far outweighs any of the usual market determinants for aviation importance (the most important of which has been population size).

This mould-breaking model derives from its increasingly valuable geographic situation. The Gulf's geographic value has been enhanced enormously in the past five years by two main factors: aviation liberalisation, which allows intermediate ports to become valuable crossroad hubs; and the introduction of long-haul aircraft, permitting non-stop service to and from almost any point in the world.

In other words, the Middle East - and the Gulf in particular - has now become the only place where a traveller can, with a single stop, travel between any other two points in the world.

We're used to thinking of big airports like Heathrow, Changi and Chicago O'Hare as regional hubs. But according to this view, the Persian Gulf will become the world's aviation hub, with Dubai World Central at its heart.