Dubai Plans Mammoth Resort, World's Largest Airport

Published May 02, 2006 -

Dubai City -- Dubai yesterday unveiled plans for a $27-billion resort similar to the Las Vegas Strip, but without the casinos, in a bid to turn the country into a major tourist destination.

And today, the government announced a $33-billion project to build the world's largest airport--the equivalent of Chicago's O'Hare and London's Heathrow airports combined--along with a new city in conjunction with the airport.

The Bawadi resort project envisions 31 hotels, with themes ranging from ancient Egyptian palaces to the British Houses of Parliament, to be built along a strip more than six miles long.

"The launch of this project effectively signals the next major phase in tourism development in Dubai as we look forward to the next eight years of major growth," said Saeed al-Muntafiq, chief executive of Tatweer, the Dubai government-owned project developer.

The project will also include the 6,500-room Asia Hotel, which will supplant the MGM Grand Las Vegas, with more than 5,600 guest rooms, as the world's largest hotel. (Expansion plans at the MGM Grand call for more than 6,700 rooms by mid-2007.)

In all, Bawadi will contain more than 29,000 hotel rooms, nearly double the number now available in Dubai. The first phase of the project, which includes the Asia Hotel, is expected to open by 2010.

The airport will contain three terminals and six runways capable of handling all kinds of aircraft. The new city is designed for a population of 750,000 people. No project completion date was announced.

Dubai authorities consider tourism as one way to wean the country off oil production, a major source of revenue. A member of the United Arab Emirates, Dubai hopes to increase tourism from six million visitors last year to 15 million visitors within a decade.