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   Dubai '07 air passenger traffic spurred by tourism

DUBAI, Jan 9 - Dubai airport, the Middle East's busiest, handled 34.3 million passengers last year, a rise of 19.3 percent over 2006 and its sixth consecutive year of growth above 15 percent as the emirate's commerce and tourism expanded.

The growth "is a reflection of Dubai's robust economy, and its rising popularity as an international commercial and tourism hub," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum, president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, said in a statement on Wednesday. Traffic may rise to 40 million this year, he said.

The airport was the 10th busiest in the world in 2006 measured by international passenger traffic, according to Geneva-based Airports Council International, which compiles data on airports around the world.

Dubai International Airport serves 120 airlines, and is spending $4.5 billion on terminal and other facilities that will triple capacity next year to 75 million passengers, the airport said. It expects 60 million passengers in 2010.

The emirate is developing a second airport with capacity to handle 120 million passengers per year.

That is double the number of international passengers London's Heathrow -- the world's busiest airport by that measure -- handled in 2006, according to Airports Council.

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