Air traffic volumes confirm the Middle East as the next worldwide travel hub

Antoine Medawar

Vice President, MENA, Amadeus IT Group

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Some of the findings show that Saudi Arabia and the UAE rose as the leading countries in the region in terms of air traffic volume, with Qatar demonstrating the strongest growth. These three countries together stand for over 53% of travellers, representing more than 52 million of the 99 million passengers whose point of departure originated from the Middle East in 2012.

middle east air traffic


I had the opportunity to share the latest Amadeus insight on this region with the press at the Arabian Travel Market, the leading trade show for this sector in this part of the world. Through one of our solutions – Amadeus Air Traffic Intelligence – we managed to extract and analyse crucial data regarding air traffic volumes in the Middle East.


Where is this data taken from? This analysis is part of awider studythat identifies the world’s most competitive air travel markets and global air travel trends followed on a yearly basis, based on the calculation of the most accurate air passenger volume for any origin and destination.

This data highlights the UAE as the most prominent point of origin for intercontinental journeys, while Saudi Arabia’s volume is driven by domestic traffic. Behind the demand on certain intercontinental routes – particularly those that connect the Gulf Cooperation Council countries to Europe and South Asia – is the growing macroeconomic significance of the region. This includes the large number of expatriates who reside in the GCC and  need to visit their home countries regularly. The growing domestic routes in Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, are not only supported by the country’s vast geographical size, but also by the thousands of pilgrims who journey within the country.

In terms of connecting air traffic, the Middle East showed strong performance with the three key airports of Dubai, Doha and Abu Dhabi experiencing high connecting traffic volumes around 50% and growing at 10% per year, while other major airports in the region (Jeddah, Riyadh or Cairo) showed connection rates of around 10%. This growth echoes the findings of the 2010 Amadeus reportSecuring the Prize for the Middle Eastwhich went through the factors enabling the Middle East to underpin the next wave of globalisation created by emerging economies to become one of the world’s dominant global travel hubs. Real figures are now reflecting that our predictions are coming true gradually.


Middle East, Research