Looking across the Emirates, infrastructure projects are significant - with public transport, road networks, railways and port facilities all increasing.
As of 2011, Dubai for example, was home to 11,700Km of paved roads, with a majority being arterial or motorways/expressways. Public bus routes increased from a total of 35 in 2001, to 90 in 2011, while public taxis totalled 3,500 by last year and clocked up more than 35.8 million trips. Meanwhile, the Dubai Metro carried more than 60 million passengers from January to September 2011.
Across the GCC, road and bridge projects are valued at $121.3bn, with $26.9bn of this total spend based in Saudi Arabia. The UAE, meanwhile, has taken the largest strides to upgrading its transport infrastructure in the coming five years, with projects totalling $58bn either already underway or in the planning stages.
Existing projects are also expanding. In June this year, a consortium of Arabtec Holding won a $2.9bn deal with Abu Dhabi Airports Company, to build a new terminal at the capital's International Airport. The 700,000 square metre site was due to start construction in the third quarter of 2012 and is due for completion in 2017. Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Khalifa Port officially opened on September 1st this year and has a capacity to handle 2.5 million containers a year, along with another 12 million tonnes of general cargo.
Looking at Abu Dhabi's infrastructure overall, a total of Dhs180bn-worth of new projects are set to be awarded during 2013, as well as the Dhs36bn that will be spent on Al Ain. The capital's transport sector is currently constructing Dhs48bn-worth of projects; manufacturing and industrial sector projects are worth Dhs22bn; while power and water sector projects amount to Dhs5bn.
Population growth increasing need for infrastructure expansion
The changing demographics of the UAE have necessitated infrastructure upgrades, with increases in population, visitors and residents. At the end of 2011 the UAE was home to 7.2 million people - a figure that's expected to rise by 5.6% to 7.6 million by year-end. Abu Dhabi's population alone was estimated to be 2.9 million in 2011 and will rise to approximately 3.1 million by year-end.
Other factors set to affect continuing infrastructure development include the burgeoning tourism and hospitality sector. Passenger traffic at Dubai International Airport - the world's fourth busiest airport - recorded double-digit growth in September this year, with a 12.8% expansion in passenger traffic (compared to the same month in 2011) up to 4.78 million. Handling more than 193,000 tonnes of cargo in September 2011 marked an increase of 9.1% on the previous year, while year-to-date freight volumes reached 1.67 million tonnes (an increase of 3.7%). Likewise, Abu Dhabi International Airport recorded 1.2 million passengers in September this year - an increase of 14.5% year-on-year.
The need for a robust infrastructure has not gone unnoticed by the UAE's capital, which has laid out its plans in the Abu Dhabi 2030 urban structure framework plan. The ambitious plan will see a complete overhaul of the capital's housing system; expansion of its port and cargo facilities; expansion in the tourism and non-oil sector; as well as increasing the standard of education in the Emirate.
A vital addition to the infrastructure of the UAE will also be the Etihad Railway (not yet under construction). The new rail network will span 1,200Km across the Emirates to Saudi Arabia and will connect other GCC states.