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Ajman International Airport UAE

Ajman International Airport

Ajman will set up an international airport, with the UK's Wiggins Group having undertaken the Dh367 million ($100 million) build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract to construct the terminal and allied infrastructure.

The contract was signed in May, with project work at the Al Helou site near the Ajman Cement plant set to start shortly. The terminal is hoped to go operational in second-half 2012.

This will be the seventh commercial international airport in the UAE.

At a British Business Group function attended by His Highness Sheikh Humaid bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ajman; Dr. Zuheir Amin, economic development adviser, explained that the facility would cater to both international passengers, airfreight and business jets market.

"Over 160 private jets are sold annually in the Middle East, with the number continuing to grow."

The complex would include a private jet terminal with maintenance facilities and would serve as a complete air service station, he stated.

"Wiggins already operates eight airports in the U.S. and Europe, and plans to expand its network to 20, the Ajman facility being its first in this region," he said.

"The company is targeting point-to-point air facilities, the idea being to set up a 'plane station' that avoids stopovers for air travellers".

While he acknowledged the events of September 11 had caused the global airlines industry to suffer a setback, he pointed out these would be short-term, and that the aviation sector would resume its growth after a temporary hiccup.

Meanwhile, UK's Thames Water with a 51 per cent stake will lead an international consortium on a Dh475-Dh515 million sewerage plant in Ajman to treat water for landscape irrigation purposes, thus replacing the current septic tank system.

The agreement is due to be signed by end-month, with the BOT operation to be implemented within four years, said Dr. Amin.

He explained that other consortium members include the U.S.' Black & Veach, which doubles as project consultant, and Japan's Fuji Bank, as financial adviser.

The plant will cater to population growth projected annually at 5.5-6 per cent for the next 20 years. The emirate's resident population stands at 220,000, up from 6,000-7,000 in the 1960s.

The official also unveiled a raft of projects aimed at facilitating the emirate's ongoing expansion and infrastructural development.

One involves a Dh44 million BOT operation to convert municipal waste into electricity and fertilizer, with consultancy by an Egypt firm, and plant implementation likely by a consortium of British and U.S. companies. Project operator is to be confirmed shortly, he added.

"We have drawn up an ambitious tourism development plan on a 9 million square metres piece of land in the Al Zawra area, with the project open to funding initially expected at Dh2.5 billion," he stated.

He explained that the beachfront project is awaiting confirmation of funding, with the first phase covering 19 per cent of the area to include a mix of tourist hotels and quality apartments and villas, and the second envisaging a golf course.

He expected the BOT project to go to a British consortium with experience of putting up similar complexes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Morocco. He added that financial closure would likely be achieved in first-quarter 2012, with phase one implementation to be completed nine months thereafter.

He said the government is seeking to expand by going the privatization way, given its relatively limited resource base. "We have privatized operations at Ajman Port recently," he pointed out.

"Our aim is to implement a mixture of income-generating and infrastructure-related projects to sustain growth" and healthy cash-flows, he noted.

Senior officials hinted at other projects in the pipeline related to the petroleum sector.

Earlier, David May, chairman of the 480-strong BBG, said the group is actively exploring business prospects in regions away from the traditional growth areas in the country.

"We held a meeting in Ras Al Khaimah four months ago, and hope to stage similar events in Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain next year," he said.

Obaid Ali Al Muhairy, director, Ajman Port, and senior member of Ajman Chamber, added that the emirate's port and free zone also continue to grow, while noting that companies involved in tourism, general trade and the hi-tech industries would find the business climate here particularly suited to them.

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