Dubai International Airport welcomes one billionth passenger

Dubai Airport

Dubai International Airport on Thursday welcomed its one billionth passenger.

The Vice President and Ruler of Dubai praised the achievement, saying Dubai had reached a “new phase in its journey towards a bright future”.

The billionth passenger was nine-year-old Arjun who arrived at Dubai International from Orlando, Florida, on Thursday afternoon, earning him and his family four days of the best Dubai has to offer.

“Dubai International Airport received its one billionth passenger today, marking a new phase in its journey towards a bright future,” Sheikh Mohammed said. “One billion passengers have made DXB a part of their personal story and helped shape Dubai into a global hub,” he added.

Arjun and his family, who arrived from Orlando on an Emirates flight at 12.23pm will be treated to a four-day “Dubai experience”, the emirate’s airport company wrote.

Arjun and his family will stay at the Atlantis hotel, ferried around by a Tesla limousine and experience four days of Dubai luxury including a guided tour of the Burj Khalifa, a personal shopping experience at Dubai Mall, backstage access and tickets to La Perle, and a private desert safari.

They were greeted by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority and CEO and Chairman of Emirates Group.

Pictures show Arjun clapping after hitting a red button on a podium, triggering a cascade of confetti from the ceiling.

Sheikh Mohammed said Dubai was “committed to remaining the first choice in transporting people across borders, helping them fulfil dreams, meet loved ones, and discover the world’s wonders”.

The airport, which is the world’s busiest by international passenger traffic, opened in 1960 with a 1,800-metre runway made of compacted sand.

This year, the airport expects to cater to more than 90 million passengers through three terminals. About 2.65 million tonnes of cargo travel through the airport each year.

The airport has grown considerably over the years, reflecting the development of the emirate. There are now three terminals and the world’s first and largest purpose-built A380 facility.

Since 2015, it has been the world’s third largest airport by passenger traffic, beaten only by Beijing Capital International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The airport is the home base for Emirates Airlines and low-cost sister airline flydubai.

It is also a hub of innovation in the commercial passenger industry, being the first airport to trial face-scanning tunnels which could replace immigration officers.

India, the UK and Saudi Arabia were the airport’s top destinations in October, with nearly one million passengers travelling to India.

Next year, airlines at Dubai International Airport will reduce flights for 45 days while the southern runway is closed for resurfacing and replacement of ground lighting.

This story was first published by The National.