The year 2016 will see numerous mega infrastructure projects coming online in the UAE. Dubai’s flagship project, Dubai South—formerly known as Dubai World—is one of the UAE’s largest under-construction developments, a 145sqkm city based on personal happiness. Al Maktoum International Airport and the World Expo 2020 site are both within the city’s borders, making it attractive to investors and residents alike.
The government of Dubai launched the project in 2006 as the world’s first purpose-built “aerotropolis,” and following its rebranding to Dubai South, the city now aspires to become a destination where people can empower themselves to achieve their goals while improving society as a whole. It aligns itself with the urban and societal themes of Dubai Plan 2021, shaped by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The city’s masterplan is divided into eight districts, namely the Aviation District, Logistics District, a Business Park, Residential District, Exhibition District, Humanitarian District, Golf District, and Al Maktoum International Airport. Some companies that have already chosen Dubai South as their base are Aramex, Nestlé, dnata, and Emirates Sky Cargo. High-profile names that have helped create the necessary infrastructure in the city are Arabtec, Al Naboodah Construction Group and Tristar Engineering and Construction.
The 6.7sqkm Aviation District will be comprised of a repair, maintenance, and overhaul (MRO) zone, as well as well-defined zones for training, education, and all the practical components of the aviation and aerospace industries, from design and development to operation and use of aircraft. DC Aviation Al-Futtaim (DCAF) was the first purpose-built facility in the district in 2013, boasting a 5,700sqm hangar to accommodate heavy business jets. The Executive Jet Terminal, a 6,000sqm facility that caters exclusively to business aviation clientele, will host Jet Aviation, XJet, and Jetex. Khansaheb is conducting the main contracting works at the executive terminal and Faithful+Gould has been selected as the official consultant. The district is open to any aviation-related companies that would help facilitate the growth and expansion of the region’s aviation sector, such as Lufthansa Technik Middle East, which will move its operational facility to the district by 3Q2016. The Aviation District also boasts a $108.8 million flight academy, with capacity for 400 students at a time. It hopes to address the shortage of pilots in the aviation industry, but it will also incorporate its own Flight Training Organization (FTO) to train UAE national pilots for Emirates Airlines.
The 21sqm Logistics District is an integrated logistics platform that features all transport modes, enables fast-cycle businesses, and provides value-added services such as manufacturing and assembly. It is connected to Jebel Ali Port thanks to the Dubai Logistics Corridor, a dedicated bridge connecting both areas. Some companies such as DHL, Ikea, Aramex, RSA Logistics, Landmark Group, Mohebi Logistics, Panalpina, and Kuehne + Nagel are already taking advantage of this corridor, which creates a single custom-bonded free zone covering an area of over 200sqm.
The Business Park Free Zone comprises 11 buildings with office spaces suited for all kinds of businesses. Property brokers CBRE and JLL will market office space at the Business Park. HE Khalifa Zaffin, Executive Chairman of Dubai Aviation City Corporation—parent organization of Dubai South—said exclusively to TBY, “The outstanding location offers unparalleled opportunities for aviation and logistics players who want to move their sea-to-air goods in record times to serve the emerging markets of the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.” The Residential area in Dubai South is set to become one of the world’s largest real estate hot spots. Knight Frank listed the city as one of the top-five infrastructure projects in the world that will create more real estate opportunities in the coming five years. MBM Holding and MAG 5 have already launched affordable residential projects and Damac Properties is on its way to deliver its first homes. Meanwhile, Dubai South launched a rent-to-own scheme for its upcoming middle-income project, “The Villages.” The project will have five community-based settlements of approximately 20,000 units. The $6.8 billion project will deliver 6,000 apartments in 2019 as part of its first phase. Arguably the most important development connected to Dubai South is Al Maktoum International Airport, which is set to become the world’s largest on completion through a $32 billion investment over the next decade. It is expanding its freight capacity of 1 million tons of cargo per year to 16 million tons and it is expected to handle 220 million passengers a year once it takes over operations from Dubai International Airport (DXB).
Dubai South will play a crucial role in Dubai’s economic development and will be a major contributor to the Emirate’s GDP. The airport will serve as the transit point for Dubai South and, once Dubai Metro and Etihad Rail are connected to the city, the project will achieve its full potential.