The Middle East is home to the world’s third-busiest airport, but its aviation sector shows no signs of slowing down. Dubai International Airport (DXB), which recorded 88 million passengers in 2017, witnessed the third-highest number of travellers last year, preceded by the US’s Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (104 million passengers) and China’s Beijing Capital International Airport (96 million passengers), according to data released by ACI World this April.

Dubai’s aviation numbers are likely to continue their upward trend as the city prepares to host Expo 2020 – an event that will not only attract visitors when it opens on 20 October, 2020, but also encourage the influx of professionals participating in the megaproject. However, Dubai’s neighbouring cities are also on track to receive more passengers as new aviation hubs take shape in key Middle Eastern cities, such as Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, and Jeddah.

All major airport projects in the region have reported progress since the year began. Earlier this month, a milestone was announced on the back-up power system of Bahrain International Airport's billion-dollar modernisation scheme.

The development includes the construction of a new passenger terminal, in addition to the expansion and refurbishment of the existing terminal. The new terminal covers a built-up area of 20.7ha, and will include a 4,600m2 departure hall, 104 check-in counters, 36 passport control booths, and 24 security checkpoints. Upon completion, the project is expected to raise the airport’s capacity from the current nine million passengers a year to 14 million per year.

A central utilities complex (CUC), comprising the airport’s emergency system, has been constructed to supply power and water to the new terminal. The CUC required a new back-up power system to ensure airport ops proceed as planned if main power fails. Two standby generators were installed for back-up power requirements.

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Additionally, Bahrain-based Rumco Group was picked to deliver a pipework system that will transfer fuel from the bulk storage tanks to the generator day tanks. Four new underground bulk fuel storage tanks, each with a capacity of 70,000 litres, will hold the diesel for the generators, and UK-made Durapipe PLX pipework will be used to feed the generator day tanks.

In 2016, a joint venture of Arabtec and TAV was named main contractor through a $1.1bn (BHD414.1m) contract for the project, which includes the construction of a new terminal building, a main services building, and an aircraft bay. UAE contractor Arabtec is also working on the Midfield Terminal Building at Abu Dhabi International Airport through a separate JV comprising Turkish contractor TAV and Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC). Their JV was awarded a $2.9bn (AED10.8bn) contract in 2012 to build the 70ha Midfield Terminal Building.

Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), which is overseeing the Midfield Terminal Building’s development, has also helped supported the progress of other aviation hubs in the UAE this year. In March, it was announced that an Emirati-Egyptian JV would carry out the expansion of Fujairah International Airport through a $180m (AED661m) contract. ADAC and the Department of Civil Aviation of the Emirate of Fujairah had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2014, through which the Abu Dhabi organisation was named to lead the Fujairah airport’s expansion. Additionally, as part of the MoU, ADAC offered its resources for the project’s planning stage, and will also provide administrative assistance during construction.