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Not just a new airport

May 29, 2014 - 3:00:21 am

“It seems that an airport like Atatürk Airport is located in the middle of the world. All races and nationalities are passing through here; it is strangely crowded,” a friend told me during his visit to the airport in Istanbul.

Most of us who arrive at the Istanbul airport see it crowded despite the existence of another airport, located east of the capital, on its Asian side. Both the airports can serve up to 60 million passengers annually.

The airport is full, with no capacity to receive any more planes, so the Turkish government has decided to build a third airport that can cater to 130 million passengers a year — twice the capacity of Atatürk Airport and the other airport — at a cost of $5.6bn.

This new airport would be a tough competitor to European airports that have dominated the European travel market for decades, and it is time for that to change.

However, as usual, developed countries do not give up easily and surrender without a fight. Britain has announced plans to expand London’s Heathrow Airport with the addition of a runway.

Officials say this project will create around 100,000 jobs and pump around £100bn (around QR608bn) into the British economy annually.

This means that travel and tourism generate gold and the community should pay for that. Turkey has become the favourite transit point for those fleeing misery in their countries and looking for better lives in the European Union.

Many laws have been issued lately to regulate the residence of foreigners, on refugees and issues related to the growing travel market.

The concept of the homeland has changed in many countries, and it is no longer the castle that needs to be defended against every invader and looter. It has become more like an economic system that protects its citizens according to contracts signed between them and the country.

One who applies for a citizenship gets all the duties and rights conferred by it after he gets a passport. The most important duty of all is to respect the law, as whoever breaks laws gets punished harshly, such as having their passport cancelled, which is what France does with naturalised citizens who violate its laws.

Countries where citizenship is a contract between the citizen and the state have flexible and fast legislative systems supported by a number of research, scientific, economic and political institutions that contribute to decision-making and legislation.

I am waiting with bated breath for what might happen in some Gulf countries, especially those aiming to convert their airports into stations for millions of travellers from all over the world, which lack the legislation to deal with such a situation.

Opening an airport does not mean just building the required infrastructure; it means creating a reasonable and fast legislative structure to issue laws and to update them whenever required. Do we have the legislative and legal infrastructure to solve the problems of tens of millions of people who will land in our country?

Western countries are melting pots where immigrants meld into one culture, as their populations enable them to absorb migrants and change them in one generation. We do not have similar numbers of people, and we resist even mixing with other cultures, but this won’t last as change is coming.

So, what culture will prevail at the end of the day? I do not know, and I have no answer.

 

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