Graphic by Nicolas Rapp
FORTUNE -- A decade ago Dubai's international airport would have been far smaller on this map -- it was the 17th-largest hub for international travelers. Today nearly 60 million passengers move through a year, and a $7.8 billion expansion will see its capacity swell to 90 million by 2018. It will be the largest, most-trafficked international hub in the world. Dubai's neighbor Abu Dhabi is building a $3 billion terminal, and Doha, in Qatar, is sinking $15.5 billion into its international airport. All told, the region has seen a 13% rise in international passengers since 2002; North America rose just 1.3%.
Flight paths by John O'Sullivan; paths show domestic and international flights. Airport data and ranking by ACI World
This story is from the January 13, 2014 issue of Fortune.
The tiny nation has a population that would fit in one Manhattan neighborhood, and its sovereign wealth fund is worth an estimated $85 billion.
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Nasser Beydoun, a Michigan businessman, went to Qatar to help open restaurants like Rainforest Cafe in the area. His associates accused him of wrongdoing he denies, and now he can't come home.
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FORTUNE -- When business relationships sour, the disputes can be bitter. But for one U.S. citizen, a venture gone bad in the gas-rich Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar has deteriorated from unpleasantness to nightmare.
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