Work on the Dubai World Central (DWC) project - which, when completed, will be the world's biggest airport - has gathered momentum with more than 50 per cent of the first of the six runways having been completed, BT has learnt.
While sources confirmed this, Abdulla Al Falasi, DWC's marketing and communications director, said work is going ahead on the first 4.5km A380 enabled CAT-III runway that is scheduled to be completed by year-end.
'First flights at Dubai World Central International Airport (JXB) are expected in mid-2008, when the first passenger and cargo terminals will be ready,' he added.
On completion, JXB is expected to have six parallel runways and as many concourses with a 92 metre-high control tower and a capacity to handle 120 million passengers annually.
The 140 sq km aviation-cum-logistics project is coming up at Jebel Ali, 40km from the existing Dubai International Airport.
Meanwhile, DWC announced the awarding of two contracts for Phase I of the project to Kuwait-based MA Kharafi & Sons and The National Company.
While the turn-key construction of its US$408 million Dubai Logistics City (DLC) headquarters and Office Park has gone to Kharafi, the contract for the construction of two central utility complexes (CUC) to meet the district cooling requirements for DWC's Phase 1 facilities has gone to The National Co, also part of the Kharafi Group.
The project is slated for completion in 2009.
The first CUC will serve the airport area while the second will cater to DLC's HQ and Office Park, said a DWC statement.
BT had earlier reported that some Singapore companies have already booked space at the DLC, the main component of DWC.
DLC, which spans 25 sq km, is designed to ultimately handle 12 million tonnes of air cargo annually in up to 16 air cargo terminals.
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of Dubai Aviation Corporation - Dubai World Central, said: 'This huge aviation city centred on JXB will place Dubai in pole position for regional logistics, tourism and commerce.'
Phase 1 of the Office Park, situated outside the customs bonded area but part of the free zone, will include 10 six-storey office buildings each with a total built-up area of about 255,000 sq m, in addition to 110,000 sq m of underground parking and 60,000 sq m of an independent parking structure. This will provide a net office space of around 198,000 sq m, said DWC.
Eventually, a total of 18 office buildings are planned to be included in Office Park.
A few days ago, Manfred Boes, president of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (Fiata), while visiting the site, said: 'With this development, Dubai will truly become the centre of the business world.'
'DLC's multi-modal hub concept is unique and Fiata's 98 national member associations - some of which are 125 years old - or our individual members from 150 countries are unequivocal in their opinion that DLC is a catalyst for change,' added Mr Boes.
According to DLC, the Fiata World Congress to be held in Dubai later this year for the second time in less than seven years - a record in Fiata's 80-year history - is expected to see nearly 1,500 delegates attending.
DWC - which is almost twice the size of Hong Kong island - in which infrastructure costs alone are estimated to touch US$33 billion, will have six specialised clustered zones: JXB, DLC, Commercial City, Residential City, Enterprise Park, and a 36-hole golf resort.
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Taxiways and one 2.8 mile runway have already been laid out on the sand, and plans call for five more runways, along with six concourses and two passenger terminals.
Two runways at Dubai International are to undergo a runway upgrade