Distance and driving time to downtown: 8 sm/13 km; avoid rush hours, if possible, as traffic congestion can cause lengthy delays.
BCA appreciates the assistance of Skyplan International in the preparation of this report.
It could be argued that the competition among oil-rich Persian Gulf nations to outdo one another with ever-larger public works and private-sector projects has reached its zenith in Dubai.
The city, poised on the northern shore of the Musandam Peninsula (that separates the Persian Gulf from the Gulf of Oman, barely 100 sm from Iran across the Strait of Hormuz), currently boasts both the highest building and what may become the largest airport in the world. The former, of course, is the minaret-like Burj Khalifa (star of the latest “Mission Impossible” film), at 2,722 ft., nearly 1,000 ft. higher than New York's 1 World Trade Center tower. And the latter, as yet not as well known outside the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is Al Maktoum International Airport, which when completed, will feature five parallel runways measuring nearly 15,000 ft. each.
Both of these edifices are emblematic of the economic course that Dubai's government has chosen to navigate the emirate away from oil revenues and into real estate and construction, tourism, shipping and high finance. The reason: Its proven oil reserves are expected to be depleted within 20 years. Currently, oil accounts for only 7% of Dubai's revenues. Al Maktoum International Airport, for example, is being developed as part of an intermodal transportation system and is linked via a new highway with Dubai's seaport. While the original conception for the airport has been scaled back since the 2008 recession and the field remains uncompleted, the facility will serve primarily as an air cargo shipping and receiving point. In the meantime, Dubai International Airport (OMDB) remains the city's primary field.
Dubai, of course, is both a city and one of the seven emirates constituting the UAE federation. The city's population stands at approximately 3.8 million people, only 19% of whom are UAE citizens, the remainder (as in Qatar) being expatriates from other countries. Its now-diversified economy is a magnet attracting international business, foreign investment and tourism, the last accounting for the rocketing growth of Dubai-based Emirates Airlines (on its way to being one of the largest carriers in the world) and elevating Dubai International Airport to 15th busiest in the world.
Not surprisingly then, Dubai is a popular destination for business aviation, and at any given time, dozens of business jets can be seen parked at the main airport's three FBOs. As a sign that this global city welcomes visitors eager to do business, only prior arrival notification is required and landing permits are unnecessary. Handlers, however, stress the importance of filing early if operators desire to keep their aircraft at Dubai International Airport rather than depositing passengers and repositioning to another field in the UAE (or out of the country), as access is actually tied to availability of parking.
“Submit your schedule, and they will issue landing permission at Dubai International based on availability of parking stands at the airport,” Jess Gassaway, an account manager at the Colt International flight planning and handling service in Houston, told BCA. “The FBOs at OMDB are Jet Aviation, Executive Flight Center and Execujet — these are where the parking stands are located. You do not need tow bars, as FBOs are well established, very new and well equipped. They are similar to a U.S. facility. But it's very important to give advance notice to secure a spot.”
Likewise, the UAE does not require visas (see “City at a Glance” for details), but both passengers and crew must hold valid passports and crewmembers are required to display valid crew IDs. “IBAC [the International Business Aviation Council] can issue them for a reasonable fee,” Keith Dixon, who oversees training and development at Colt, reminded readers. “With best practice, you are looking at a 48-hr. advance notice,” Dixon continued, “but be aware that their work week is Sunday through Thursday, so don't file on Friday [when Muslims go to mosque].”
At Dubai International Airport, customs comes to the FBOs and clears passengers there. “Unfortunately, the fuel farm is located on the opposite side of the airport from the general aviation area, and their first priority is fueling Emirates Airlines,” Gassaway said. “We recommend taking on fuel on arrival, as you can wait up to 90 min. for a fuel truck.”