Abu Dhabi International Airport

An ultramodern terminal complex in the making
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Midfield Terminal Complex Development

The construction of the Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC) and overall expansion of Abu Dhabi International Airport are vital to enable the diversification of the Emirate’s economy by fostering growth in other industries through increased connectivity.

Within the next few years, 20 million people are expected to use Abu Dhabi International Airport as their origin, destination or transit point for international and domestic journeys.

Abu Dhabi Airports is tasked with ensuring that the airport is able to provide world-class services that meet this demand over the coming years. This is part of the Government’s Plan Abu Dhabi 2030, an Emirate-wide strategy to cater for Abu Dhabi’s business and tourism growth.

The centerpiece of Abu Dhabi Airports multibillion-dollar investment programme is the Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC), which will provide a full terminal building, passenger and cargo facilities, and duty-free shops and restaurants.  The terminal will have capacity to handle 30 million passengers per year, and up to 8,500 passengers per hour.


The MTC will be located between the airport’s two runways, which also gives the terminal its name. This location allows for the quickest possible journey from runway to stand, resulting in a smoother experience for the Terminal’s passengers.

Terminal buildings

The MTC’s terminal building will be the largest in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and one of the region’s most architecturally impressive structures. It will have 700,000sqm of internal space, and will be visible from more than 1.5km away. The central space of the terminal building could hold three full-sized football pitches and features a ceiling 52m tall at its highest point, taller than the Emirates Palace.

The complex will include approximately 28,000sqm of retail and F&B outlets. These are set around an 8,400sqm indoor park, another first for the region, which will host Mediterranean plants and features at its centre, and desert landscapes at its edge.

Associated support buildings take up an additional 800,000sqm, and will include access to 16-20 aircraft parking stands dedicated to cargo.


Developing the MTC is an international multicultural team, which includes experts that have played critical roles in some of the most important airport developments of recent years, such as Heathrow’s Terminal 5.

Sustainable design requirements have played an important part in making the MTC an environmentally friendly building, taking into account the Urban Planning Council’s Estidama approach towards sustainable design. The Terminal is designed to minimise its impact on the environment, making use of design elements such as high performance and angled glass facades to avoid heat from entering the building, making air conditioning more efficient while providing day lighting for interior spaces. Solid cladding has also been integrated in the design, further reducing the impact of the sun.

Environmental design initiatives that are being pursued also include water conservation using waste water for irrigation of outdoor plants. The MTC team is working closely with Masdar, whose zero-carbon city is being developed adjacent to the airport. Such collaboration ensures that ideas and techniques are shared across these two developments in Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

Abu Dhabi Airports and the joint venture (JV) of TAV, CCC, and Arabtec have signed an AED 10.8 billion contract in June 2012 for the construction of the Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) at Abu Dhabi International Airport, with opening planned for 7.00am on 17 July 2017. Construction of the 700,000sqm terminal building, one of the world-class infrastructure projects being undertaken in the capital, commenced in 2013 and has already achieved several significant milestones, including the erection of the first steel buttress and the completion of the first steel arch, which stretches across 180 metres.

The project consists of two key phases: The four year construction phase, which commenced in 2013, followed by the Operational Readiness Assessment phase (ORAT), where during a nine month period, thorough tests of all aspects of the terminal will take place to ensure operational and efficiency readiness from the first day of operation.

In September 2013, the Midfield Terminal Complex received an Estidama 3 Pearl Rating. The Estidama Pearl Rating System is a framework developed by the Urban Planning Council for sustainable design, construction and lifecycle operation for communities, buildings and villas. The MTB is now the highest rated airport terminal in the GCC, and the largest singular building ever to be rated globally.

The MTB was designed to achieve a considerable reduction in annual energy consumption through the specification of an appropriate and climate responsive building form and façade. A sophisticated Building Management System and an Advanced Energy Measurement and Targeting System will also be in place to allow the energy performance of the building to be recorded and monitored. The MTB has also introduced systems to limit the use of potable water, divert construction waste from landfills and use recycled and local materials wherever possible.

Passenger facilities and duty-free retail will include high-end commercial offerings across more than 18,000sqm, including internationally renowned luxury goods and designer outlets, and almost 10,000sqm of international restaurants and cafes, offering a wide range of styles and cuisines. Passenger facilities will also include over 27,500sqm of airline hospitality lounges, a transit hotel and a heritage and culture museum.  

Operational highlights include:

  • Piers will accommodate up to 65 aircraft, including the Airbus A-380

  • Check-in is capable of handling around 8,500 passengers per hour

  • Check-in will provide 165 conventional counters and 48 self-service kiosks

  • Baggage system is designed to process over 19,000 bags per hour with over 22 kilometers of conveying lines and 10 reclaim carousels

  • 136 security screening lanes for passengers, with a further 25 for staff

  • The building will be constructed using approximately 69,000 tons of steel, more than 680,000 cubic meters of concrete, and nearly 500,000 square meters of steel and glass cladding, 135,000 tons of rebar, 360,000 square meters of suspended ceilings and 325,000 square meters of natural stone flooring