The Old "New" Dubai Airport 1975
Dubai was a small (100,000 population) but ambitious City State by the end of 1960s. Dubai Airport's Terminal Building was inadequate to meet growing needs. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum commissioned Architects Page and Broughton to design a Terminal to meet projected air-transport growth. Sheikh Rashid hoped to persuade international airlines to use Dubai as a Hub and Transit Airport.
Costain Civil Engineering, Ltd., of London was awarded the $10 million construction contract. Dubai's new Airport Terminal opened in 1971.
Dubai Airport International Terminal Design
The design was ahead of its time in providing passenger facilities to handle modern jumbo aircraft. Restaurants and kitchens serving 400, free-zone shopping area and sleeping accommodation for stranded travelers were unique in the region. Extensive ground services and refueling were also provided. Terminal's design avoided traditional decorative motifs. Instead it employed a visually open and vaulted structure to create an arabesque quality. 56 lightweight, insulated "umbrella" units of glass-reinforced plastic framed by steel supported on reinforced concrete columns formed the roof. The dome over the VIP lounge is also reinforced plastic.
Dubai's First Flyover
Arrival and Departures were handled on this three-level terminal second level. Access was by elevated roadway via a flyover (A UAE first!) from the main Airport Road. Car parked in open air car parks at ground level. Passengers reached their aircraft by walking from the air conditioned Terminal down spiral ramps onto the tarmac. These ramps were sheltered from the sun but passengers were still exposed to Dubai's heat and humidity.
SkyJacking comes to Dubai
Security was not high on the list of Airport Terminal design requirements in the late 1960s. It proved remarkably easy for HiJackers to break through Dubai Airport Security perimeter and access aircraft on the tarmac. There were around five such incidents. Lives were lost but these hi-jackings gave then unknown Dubai worldwide publicity.
How to get In - and Out
My wife worked at Dubai Airport. She had a problem with her car. Could I come to the Airport and pick her up? Where? Outside the Administration Building. How do I get there? Drive up the flyover then just before the Terminal Building you'll see a Slip Road with a Drop Barrier and a Guard. Speak to the Guard and he will let you in. How will he know to let me in? I'll speak to the Security Officer. He will arrange things. OK!
I drive to the Airport and up the flyover. I can see the Slip Road on my right. The Drop Bar is down. There is an armed Guard standing by the Drop Bar. He is carrying a huge automatic weapon plus a pistol on his hip. I stop and explain why I want to enter the Airport Perimeter. He asks for ID. I provide it. He looks at it and hands it back. Then he wanders round my car looking inside and in the boot. Then the Guard raises the Drop Bar and waves me through. I drive down the narrow Slip Road to the Administration Building and meet my wife. Seems someone has deflated all her car tyres. She had parked in someone else's car park. They were obviously upset. No choice but to drive my wife home and make arrangements to get the tyres fixed later. How do I get out? Just continue along the road. It's a one way system. It will take you out of the airport. I drive slowly. I eventually ask "Where's the Exit Checkpoint?" There isn't one. And there wasn't!
Who could ever suspect Terrorists would be so devious as to Enter through the Exit!
Dubai's New Airport Terminal Version 2 (or maybe 3)
Dubai's first "New" Airport Terminal quickly proved to be too small for Dubai's growing passenger traffic. The Terminal underwent at least two major developments before the decision was made to build a totally new Dubai International Airport.