) -- The apparent resurgence in Dubai's economy is good news for U.S. transport companies that have made the city a centerpiece in their Middle East strategies.
A turning point came for Dubai came last week, when
, one of three principal state-owned holding companies, said it had received approval from creditors to alter terms on $24.9 billion of debt.
finds Dubai so important that it is testing the Explorer there (as seen above).
has a Dubai office and counts the Middle East as a key growth region.
also has a Dubai hub.
On the airline passenger side, both
serve Dubai. Aviation research firm OAG said traffic at Dubai International Airport (DXB) is increasing rapidly, with 14% year-over-year capacity growth in September. In fact, for the first time, Dubai's capacity has surpassed the capacity at New York's Kennedy Airport.
Read on for a look at some of the reasons why U.S. companies find Dubai a good place to do business.
In its 2010 market outlook, Boeing noted that the Middle East was the only region in the world where international traffic increased during 2009; the region posted traffic growth of 11.2%.
In the first quarter of 2010, passenger traffic grew 25% and air freight rose 34%. Both oil wealth and the regional airlines' strategic growth plans play a role, Boeing said, noting that over the next three decades, $48 billion is committed to airport projects that will significantly increase the number of passengers able to visit Dubai, Doha, Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Muscat.
Boeing has offices in Dubai, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi and plans to set up shop in Qatar after the company's orders have increased in recent months, Paul Kinsherff, Boeing president for the Middle East, said in a recent interview with
The aircraft maker notes that its relationship with the Middle East dates back to 1945, when President Franklin Roosevelt presented a DC-3 Dakota to King Abdulaziz Al-Saud of Saudi Arabia.
Middle East deals have been getting a little bigger. The Obama administration is expected to notify Congress soon that it has agreed to sell $60 billion worth of fighter jets and helicopters to Saudi Arabia. Boeing would be a major beneficiary, because the deal could include as many as many as 84 new F-15E "Strike Eagle" fighters, as well as upgrades to 70 more F-15s,
The Wall Street Journal
Ford has been testing the 2011 Explorer in Dubai because "the sweltering heat and humidity conditions of Dubai have helped us develop a better Explorer," said Don Ufford, Ford chief engineer for vehicle engineering, in a prepared statement. "With midday temperatures pushing 125 degrees Fahrenheit -- aggravated by high humidity near the sea coast -- Dubai represents an ideal environment to test and validate vehicle performance in some of the world's most extreme conditions."
Ford sells nearly 10,000 Explorers annually in the Middle East. There, the vehicle's various capabilities seem to have far more value than in other venues like the U.S., where a typical expedition might be a drive to the shopping mall.
In Dubai, by contrast, Explorer's terrain management sand mode might come in handy -- it allows for some wheel spin at initial throttle in order to gather momentum and limit slippage.
FedEx has its Middle Eastern hub in Dubai, one of four airports it serves directly in the Middle East and Africa. (The others are in Mumbai, Delhi and Almaty, Kazakhstan.) FedEx also has business support services at FedEx Kinko's in Kuwait, Lebanon, and the United Arab Emirates.
In June, the company named Gerald Leary as regional president for FedEx Express, Europe, Middle East, Indian Subcontinent and Africa. He is based at the company's European headquarters in Brussels.
In a recent report, OAG noted that air service to the Middle East continues to expand, with 11% growth in September.
The U.S. carrier with the most service to the Middle East is Delta. Its Middle East destinations include Amman, Jordan; Dubai, UAE; and Tel Aviv. Delta also serves two nearby cities, Istanbul and Cairo. United flies to Dubai and Kuwait from its hub at Washington Dulles International Airport; the latter flight continues on to Bahrain.
"Much of the growth in the Middle East is spurred by increased flights in the region to a number of Asian and European destinations. Dubai International Airport is home to a growing airline, which is supported by a government interested in opening international markets, catapulting the airport into the position of being a leading international airport," said Peter von Moltke, CEO of UBM Aviation, in a prepared statement.
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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