Dubai International Airport. Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai International Airport

Airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai Airport - مطار دبي Photo © Paul Saad

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Dubai International Airport

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Dubai Airport | Dubai, UAE -
	Dubai International Airport
Dubai Airport | Dubai, UAE - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Jason Mrachina
Dubai is a city renowned for its obsession with all things excessively superlative. It’s home to the tallest, largest, and most luxurious in various categories and thrives in its quest to outdo all other countries, in one way or another. The Dubai International Airport is, as expected, neither shy, subtle, nor small. Although in this case, excess is certainly warranted. Not only is DXB the busiest in the Middle East, but it is also the world’s fastest growing aviation hub, beating Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur by 250,000 additional seats every year.

When it first opened, in 1960, it was nothing more than a basic shack and compacted sand runway, and could only handle aircrafts the size of a DC-3 (Wikipedia Article). Soon after asphalt arrived, merely four years later, the airport started to grow exponentially. Since the turn of the millennium, DXB has been expanding at a mind-boggling rate, with the last decade-and-a-half being by far the most profuse.

DXB is under near-constant renovation and expansion and has been, since 2010, able to accommodate the gargantuan Airbus A380. At the current rate, the airport is doubling passenger influx every four years. The main hub for Emirates, FlyDubai, and Qantas, the Dubai International Airport is currently undergoing extensive renovations on the terminal interior, which will see it emerge as a sparkling gem, no doubt.

Terminal 1 - Dubai International
Terminal 1 - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Zack Lee

Interesting Facts

	3 - Dubai International Airport
Terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport.
  • The airport’s duty free stores (all considered as one, combined store) are rated ‘the largest and busiest retail outlet’ in the world. They raked in just under 2 billion USD in 2014.
  • Over 70.5 million passengers walk through the gates every year.
  • Airline traffic adds 26 billion USD to the Emirati economy every year. Unbeknownst to many, tourism is actually Dubai’s biggest revenue maker, not oil. DXB employs over 90,000 people and indirectly supports almost half a million.
  • Terminal 3 of DXB is the second-largest building on the planet and reserved for Emirates and its partner Qantas. Also, Concourse A of terminal 3 solely handles Emirates Airbus A380 airplanes.
  • The recent refurbishment of the runways comprised over 8kms of drain pipes, 1,700 manholes, 1,000kms of cables, and 11,000 new runways spot lights.

A380s lined
	up at terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport
A380s lined up at terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Christoph

 - Dubai
	International Airport
Dubai International Airport. Photo by mana_wu

Visitor Information & Services

As far as transit experiences go, DXB offers quite a bit, both in terms of comfort and services. Considering the fact that Emirates is one of the world’s best airlines, its hub airport is certainly reason enough to book a flight. WiFi is sketchy in parts (but at least it’s free) and, if you fly Emirates and must spend more than four hours here, you do get a meal for free.
Here are some more services you ought to take advantage of:
  • You’ll see an army of staff members walking around the airport wearing ‘May I help you?’ blue T-shirts, which sounds kitsch but is actually very clever. Besides these very helpful staff, you’ll also find information desks dotted in between the huge duty free outlets.
  • To claim your free meal, head to Transfer Desk H2, where you’ll receive a voucher for a meal at any one of five food outlets, including Burger King.
  • T2 and T3 Arrivals Hall boast luggage lockers which are cheap (20 AED) and convenient if you have many hours to spare and don’t wish to push a cart everywhere.
  • Free showers can be enjoyed in T1 (gates C18 and C22) and T3 (gates B13 and B19).
  • A fantastic health club (called G-Force), which includes a swimming pool, gym, Jacuzzi, and massage service, can be booked per hour for just 15 AED.

Dubai Airport - Dubai International Airport
Dubai Airport - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Hugh Llewelyn

ATM & Currency Exchange

DXB is equipped with several 24/7 currency exchange counters, and ATMs in all three terminals. Moreover, there are dedicated bank branches where transfer services are also available. Postal Service counters also abound.

Airport Transfers in/from City Centre

Drop Off - Dubai International
Drop Off - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Genlab Frank
The airport’s three terminals are reached by free shuttle bus service. To reach the city center, however, you have three methods:

By Bus

There are buses which ply the route from Downtown to all three terminals. You must buy a card however, as you won’t be able to pay for your fare in cash. To reach the bus terminal, and purchase a card, look out for one of the ‘May I help you?’ staff members, and allow them to do just that.

By Taxi

A taxi ride from DXB to Dubai Marina should set you back about 100 AED. You’ll find a long line of metered taxis right outside the arrivals’ gates. Taxis are perfectly safe to use inDubai but if you do feel unsure, and are female, then choose a taxi with pink trims, as they boast female drivers.

By Metro

Trains into and around the city are plentiful and rides very affordable. Much like the bus, you’ll need to buy a card (which is actually the same for both systems). Ride prices vary depending on how many zones you will need to travel through, although do note that you’re only allowed on trains with one carry-on piece of luggage and one bigger suitcase.

Terminal 3 - Dubai International
Terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport. Photo by roevin | Urban Capture

Last-minute souvenirs - Dubai
	International Airport
Last-minute souvenirs - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Nic Adler

Food & Refreshments

Overall there are about 80 F&B outlets spread throughout the three terminals, offering everything from fine dining to cheap and cheerful snack outlets.


True to form, Dubai’s airport offers more shopping opportunities than you’d know what to do with. A retail therapy mecca all its own, the Duty Free here is incredibly well-stocked and, dare we say, will satisfy all your souvenir shopping needs. Surprisingly, it is also well priced so as long as you have plenty of time up your sleeve, you could do all your souvenir purchases here. From cosmetics to liquor and tobacco, confectionery; clothing, leather goods; designer gear, watches and jewelry; you’ll find it all here. And then some!

Wi-Fi/Internet access

Boingo Wireless offers half an hour's of free internet at the airport, although you can purchase 30 AED unlimited daily pass if you’re here for a few hours.

Terminal 3 (from the Business Class Lounge level) - Dubai International Airport
Terminal 3 (from the Business Class Lounge level) - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Thousand Wonders

Transfer Lounges

Waiting lounge at the Dubai
	airport - Dubai International Airport
Waiting lounge at the Dubai airport - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Edmund Yeo
If you’re after a quiet place in which to take a nana-nap for a couple of hours, then head to the airport’s two rest zones, which are in T1, near gates C23 and C9. The reclining chairs are quite comfy but the place can get quite cold and noisy, so a blanket and earplugs would be useful.
The Snooze Cube hotel in T1 offer tiny but comfy-enough rooms with bed, shower, & free WiFi for $ 16 USD an hour.Out of a total of 10 fantastic lounges, six are accessible by paying a daily fee of about $ 35 USD . They are: the Marhaba and Business Class lounges in T1, Marhaba in T2 and two Marhaba plus Lounge B in T3. All offer comfortable resting areas, showers, newspapers, WiFi and refreshments.
Holders of first and business class tickets for the following airlines can take advantage of their dedicated lounges: Lufthansa, Emirates, British, Air France, KLM, and Gulf Air.

Airport Hotels

DXB boasts three airport hotels, all very easily accessible and all offering free shuttle services to and fro. The Dubai International, Holiday Inn, and Premier Inn offer comfortable stays for those who are overnighting here or have more than 5-6 hours transits. The first mentioned is the airport’s five-star digs and, it must be said, is quite the opulent abode.

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Author: Laura Pattara. Last updated: Apr 07, 2015

Pictures of Dubai International Airport

Terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport
Terminal 3 - Dubai International Airport. Photo by gadha

Lamborghini, up for grabs - Dubai International Airport
Lamborghini, up for grabs - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Prem Kumar Aparanji

Dubai Airport Panorama - Dubai International Airport
Dubai Airport Panorama - Dubai International Airport. Photo by Frans Zwart


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