is well on its way to becoming a regional industrial center,
investing over $3 billion to develop its petrochemical base
and increase its upstream gas handling capacity alone.
Abu Dhabi is also pushing to establish itself as a leading
transit center and tourist destination, upgrading and expanding
all elements of its infrastructure and transport facilities.
Dhabi International Airport is playing a key role as the
major entry point to the emirate; passenger arrivals are
increasing year by year.
al Mohairbi, Abu Dhabi International Airport's director,
says overall traffic through the airport in 1998 reached
3.4 million, an increase of 8 percent over 1997. This included
a 7 percent increase in departures, a 10 percent increase
in arrivals and an 8 percent increase in transit passengers.
total, 33 percent were from the Middle East, 19 percent
were from Gulf Cooperation Council countries and 25 percent
were from Asia, including 13 percent from India. Another
11 percent of passengers were from Europe, with a variety
of other nationalities making up the final 12 percent.
Mohairbi says more than 40 airlines now operate from the
airport, linking it to more than 90 international airports.
Over the past year a number of new airlines were attracted
by the airport's strategic location and first-class facilities.
''During 1998, we signed agreements with two charter airlines,
Britannia and LTU, under which they will utilize Abu Dhabi
for their technical stopovers and as a transit point during
flights between Europe and the Far East, '' he says.
of new airlines also began operations out of Abu Dhabi during
1998. These included Shaheen Air, Air Maldives, Air Afrique
and Czech Airlines. Their entry has added northern Pakistan,
the Maldives, West Africa and Mauritania to the countries
and regions connected to Abu Dhabi and increased the choice
and flexibility of routes available to passengers.
Mohairbi is confident that the major expansion under way
in all aspects of the airport will confirm Abu Dhabi's role
as both a major transit point and a major destination for
the Gulf and the wider Middle East region well into the
21st century. ''Once our airport expansion program is complete,''
he says, ''Abu Dhabi International Airport will be offering
services in keeping with the promise of the new millennium.''