was built in 1959 at Al Ghusais by order of the late
Ruler Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Dubai had no direct air services at that time. Imperial Airways Flying Boat Services landed on Dubai Creek for an overnight stop enroute to Karachi. Their passengers slept in Sharjah for security reasons!
Freddie Bosworth regularly flew into Diera bringing gold bullion shipments for Dubai's "export" business. Freddie later founded Gulf Aviation - now Gulf Air. International travelers flew into Bahrain then either took a boat to Dubai or a local flight to Sharjah. With Freddie Bosworth's help, Sheikh Rashid overcame British resistance and built Dubai's first airport in Al Ghusais. His first choice was Jebel Ali but Jebel Ali was considered too far from Dubai!
Original runway was made from compacted sand. Middle East Airlines (MEA) were the first to land on the 1.8 km (1.12 miles) long runway. MEA and Kuwait Airways flew De Havilland Herons and Doves into Dubai. Later they used four engined Viscounts. These bigger more powerful aircraft frequently "blew away" the runway. Sheikh Rashid eventually ordered the runway to be reconstructed with modern materials.
The Original Dubai Airport Terminal had minimal facilities. Not that many facilities were needed! Flights were infrequent and although flights were sometimes full, the planes did not carry large numbers of passengers. Passengers disembarked and walked across the tarmac to the Airport Terminal, providing a very hot welcome to Dubai in summer!. A solitary Immigration Officer processed passports from behind an old wooden desk and the Customs Officer checked very little. The process took minutes. Passengers could then visit two Duty Free Shops in the Terminal . Prior to around 1973 alcohol was freely available in Dubai. Passengers walked out of the Terminal to a car park (with 500 spaces) to find a taxi. No air conditioned taxis in those days!
MEA and BOAC (forerunner of British Airways) each had just two flights a week while all the inter Gulf flying was by Gulf Aviation either in their BAC 1-11 or Fokker Friendship. When BOAC introduced the VC10 into service, Sheikh Rashid decided to upgrade Dubai Airport to accommodate this four engined jet aircraft. However BOAC were reluctant to commit to a weekly service unless there was a guarantee of traffic. British Companies eventually guaranteed passenger traffic and Sheikh Rashid did the same for freight. Dubai moved into the age of international air travel in 1971 with the opening of the "New" Dubai International Airport.