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Emirates TravelUAE guide / UAE transport & telecommunications

Transport and Telecommunications in the UAE

The seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates have six international airports among them
The seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates have six international airports among them. The UAE’s location on the Persian Gulf also makes it a global hub for ocean traffic, with two major ports in Dubai alone. Inland, the UAE’s transportation network is based on roads. There is no rail network in the UAE, but Dubai has begun construction on a light rail network and has increased its bus services in recent years to alleviate traffic congestion. Telecommunications in the UAE are among the most advanced in the world, with a high percentage of the population having access to broadband Internet connections (which are censored), and very low tariffs for mobile phone users – averaging just $0.06 per minute.

Air Travel in the UAE

Dubai International Airport is hemmed in by development, and even though it is adding another concourse scheduled to open in 2011, Dubai is also building a second international airport, Maktoum International Airport, which is named for the emirate of Dubai’s ruling family. While Dubai International has the capacity for handling 60 million passengers per year, a figure which rises to 75 million upon the 2011 opening of the new concourse, Maktoum International Airport will have a capacity of 160 million passengers, and will be able to handle 12 to 14 million tons of freight every year. The new airport is being constructed near the port of Jebel Ali, and is currently scheduled to open in 2010.

Abu Dhabi International Airport recently welcomed its 43rd airline, Sudan based Sun Air. Abu Dhabi International is undergoing a major redevelopment project with upgrades to existing terminals and the recent opening of a third terminal. The expansion continues, and the first phase of this project is scheduled for completion in 2011. Abu Dhabi International currently serves about 7 million passengers a year, but that number will eventually increase to 20 million a year once the expansion project is completed. The airport is also planning a 12 km rail transport system with 19 stops that will link Abu Dhabi with the airport and the free trade zones that will be incorporated as part of the airport expansion.

The Al Ain International airport, opened in 1994, is a smaller international airport that is also located in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Other international airports in the UAE include Sharjah International Airport, Fujairah International Airport, and Ras al-Khaimah International Airport.

UAE Ports

The UAE currently has 15 commercial ports that include oil terminals serving the federation. Total port capacity is more than 70 million tons. A leading port in the Persian Gulf region is Mina Rashid, which was built in 1972. This port can handle almost any kind of commercial and passenger shipping. Port Jebel Ali, completed in 1979, is the UAE’s largest port. Both are located in Dubai. Jebel Ali is the largest man-made harbor in the world, dealing mostly in bulk cargo and industrial material for the surrounding Free Zone, which is a destination for international investments.

Abu Dhabi’s main cargo port is Mina Zayid, which was opened in 1972. This port has been undergoing a 15 year expansion since 1998. It is now capable of handling 30,000 20-foot-equivalent units.

In Sharjah, twin container terminals at Mina Khalid and Khor Fakkan have been handling sustained growth in traffic throughput, even during economic slumps. The 350 meter long berth at Khor Fakkan is one of the leading container shipping facilities in the Persian Gulf region.

Telecommunications in the UAE

The UAE has one of the most advanced telecommunication networks in the world. There are over 6 million mobile phone accounts, which is especially remarkable since the total population is just over 4 million. There are also 1.5 million landline subscribers. While a residence visa is required for the installation of a landline, mobile phones with SIM cards are permitted regardless of residency.

The two telecommunications corporations in the UAE are Etisalat and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), operating under the trade name “du.”

Etisalat held a monopoly from 1976 to 2006. At that time Etisalat ranked as the sixth largest corporation in the Middle East. Its services include Internet access, LAN and WAN networks, prepaid phone service, mobile phone service, cable television, and local telecommunications. It offers support for 3G applications and the Blackberry phones and products.

In December 2006, EITC, or “du” was launched in the UAE. Its ownership breaks down as UAE government 40%, Mubadala Development 20%, Emirates Telecommunications and Technology Ltd 20%, and 20% publicly held. Du has the goal of acquiring 30% of the UAE market by 2011.

In terms of physical and electronic infrastructure, the UAE is among the best equipped nations in the world. With the exception of rail transit, transportation infrastructure is highly developed, with an extensive network of roads, six international airports, and numerous world class port facilities along the Persian Gulf. Telecommunications in the UAE are also among the best in the world.

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