United Arab Emirates - Infrastructure

Infrastructure

The UAE has been spending billions of dollars on infrastructure and is the biggest projects market in the region, accounting for 37% of total project value within the construction, oil and gas, petrochemicals, power and water and waste sectors. Many huge investments have been poured into real estate, tourism and leisure. These developments are particularly evident in the larger emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In the former, Masdar City and Saadiyat Island highlight the status as an emerging market. Dubai World Central, a 140-square kilometre multi-phase development under construction near Jebel Ali, will create 900,000 jobs, and will include Al Maktoum International Airport, which will be the largest airport in the world by 2020. Property developer Emaar’s Burj Khalifa is a Dh3.67 billion (US$1billion) tower that is the world's tallest skyscraper.

Governments in the northern emirates are rapidly following suit, providing major incentives for developers of residential and commercial property. In addition, UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has allocated Dh16 billion (US$4.4 billion) for infrastructure projects in the northern emirates. The allocation will be used to fund the construction of road networks, new housing communities, drainage networks and other projects, providing integrated solutions to some infrastructure deficits in these areas.

The United Arab Emirates has an extensive road network that connects all major cities and towns. Roads in the western and southern regions are still relatively undeveloped. Those are highly dangerous roads passing through desert regions and many are still unsealed, gravel roads. This has resulted in the continued use of airplanes as the main or alternative mode of transportation for the residents.

There are seaports throughout the country. The major ports are Port Jebel Ali, Port Rashid, Port Khalid, Port Saeed, Port Khor Fakkan, and Port Zayed.

The UAE contains a number of significant airports. Dubai International Airport (DXB) is the main airport of the country. In 2008, the airport was the 20th busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic and 11th busiest by cargo traffic. The airport also was the 6th busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic. Other important airports include Abu Dhabi International Airport, Sharjah International Airport, and Al-Ain International Airport. There are also airports in smaller towns, as well as small domestic airstrips in the rural Western region. There are daily flight services between West and East UAE, which is the only convenient option for passengers travelling between the two parts of the country to places such as Sir Bani Yas. The UAE is home to the largest airline in the Middle East, Emirates Airline. It has Dubai as its hub, and flies to over 100 destinations across six continents. The airline was the eighth-largest airline in the world in terms of international passengers carried, and fifth-largest in the world in terms of scheduled international passenger-kilometres flown in 2008. Etihad Airways, from Abu Dhabi, is also growing, with over 100 aircraft on order.

The Dh15.5 billion (US$4.2 billion) Dubai Metro project includes a 52-kilometre Red Line viaduct, which stretches the length of Sheikh Zayed Road between Al Rashidiya and Jebel Ali and was opened in September 2009 after round-the-clock work for three years. The Red Line when fully complete will carry an estimated 27,000 passengers per hour in each direction on 42 trains. Work also on the Green Line, which will link Al Qusais to Dubai Healthcare City, began in 2006 and is scheduled for completion in late 2010. In Abu Dhabi plans are underway for all a metro system and also a country-wide national railway, which will connect all the major cities and is later to connect to the GCC wide network. The cost for the railway will be between Dh25bn and Dh30bn, and will be a total length of 1,100 kilometres, connecting Ghuwaifat, bordering the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in the west and the border with the Sultanate of Oman in the east.

The Federal Electricity and Water Authority (FEWA) is the body responsible for overseeing federal utilities, whilst authorities in individual emirates, including Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA), Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) and Sharjah Water and Electricity Authority (SEWA), oversee power and water generation in their individual emirates. The UAE plans to build 68 rechargeable dams in the coming five years to augment the 114 dams in existence, all but two of which are rechargeable, to help with providing for the growing population.

The UAE is also planning to develop a peaceful nuclear energy programme to generate electricity. So far, the UAE has signed peaceful nuclear agreements with France, United States, and South Korea, and a MOU with the United Kingdom.

The UAE is presently serviced by two telecommunications operators, Etisalat and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company ("du"). Etisalat operated a monopoly until du launched mobile services in February 2007. However, Etisalat, with over 80% of the market, remains the UAE's biggest telecom provider and is expanding dramatically internationally and is now the sixteenth largest telecommunications firm in the world. Du is targeting a 30% market share by 2010. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of mobile phone subscribers in the UAE grew by an annual average of 25.6%, almost four times its population growth. In 2007, there were 7.7 million subscribers. Forecasts indicate that the UAE mobile market will increase to 11.9 million users by 2012.

Current UAE internet penetration figures assume 2.4 users per subscription. TRA projections indicate that over the next few years growth in both users and subscriptions will be coupled with a fall in the number of users per subscription: the number of subscribers are expected to increase from 0.904 million in 2007 to 1.15 million in 2008, 1.44 million in 2009 and 2.66 million in 2012. Internet use is extensive; by 2007 there were 1.7 million users. The authorities filter websites for religious, political and sexual content.

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