Dubai Terminal 2

When we were in the United Arab Emirates last April, we travelled with Norwegian Airline Shuttle, a budget airline using Dubai Terminal 2.

Dubai terminal 2

According to the Dubai Airport website, the renowned Dubai Duty Free covers 5400 sq. metres of shopper’s paradise. Well, it’s certainly not located in Dubai Terminal 2. There’s only one shop in Terminal 2. A rather uninteresting one. That, and just a few cafeterias.

Take the airport bus or bullet train or whatever – and pop over to another terminal, you say? Well, there is an airport shuttle, but you’ll need time: Terminal 2 is half an hour away from Terminal 3. Not that that should deter you. Most flights from Terminal 2 are delayed. Very much delayed! You see, Dubai Terminal 2 is the departure point for flights to “bad”, obscure or dangerous places, often all three. And Oslo.

In Terminal 2, you don’t see the usual crowd of businessmen hunched over their laptops. Most seem to be migrant workers, aid workers or tired journos. And Norwegian tourists. Not many wheeled carry-ons here. Instead, worn holdalls, plastic bags and cardboard boxes abound. Held together by tape.

The notice board resembles a fascinating directory of unknown and exotic-sounding destinations. Ever heard of Gheshm? Or Ahwaz? Or Ashgabat? Or Bald? I’m especially fascinated by Kish. Kish appears on the board a lot. Where is Kish?

Reading like a list of the world’s most troubled spots, flights to Kabul, Kandahar, Mogadishu, Srinagar, Asmara, Tehran-Imam Khomeini, Baghdad, Kirkuk and Erbil take off from Terminal 2. On never-before-heard-of airlines like Queshm Fars Air, Nasair, Pamir Airways and Jubba Air. And of course, Kish Air. Many flights are on outdated Soviet Tupolev or Antonov aircraft. Some, like Ariana Afghan Airways, are banned from entering European Union air space.

The night we were there, the notice board showed all flights were delayed; some until the next day! It was almost midnight. The idea of spending 24 extra hours – or even 2 – in DUbai Terminal 2, seemed unbearable. Especially with a tired 7-year-old along. Then I noticed one flight that was not delayed. The only one: our flight to Oslo.

A year later, I still have an urge to go back to Terminal 2 and try one of those unknown destinations. Maybe on one of those unknown airlines. Kish. It’s got to be Kish.

Turns out Kish is in Iran, and easily accessible from Dubai. Not only does Kish Air and Queshm Air fly regularly and frequently, there’s also a boat. Kish is a free trade zone and a resort island in the Persian Gulf. Seems to be an easy intro to Iran, with the possibility of staying for 14 days visa-free. Although as a Westerner, I may be sternly questioned as to the purpose of my visit. Definitely adding Kish to my to-go list! Looks like another visit to Dubai Terminal 2 is in my future.

Photo of Dubai Terminal 2 courtesy of

13 Responses to “Dubai Terminal 2”

  1. Christian 30 May 2010 1248 #

    I’m strangely drawn to these ominous-sounding places too. Love this post.

  2. Tim M. 30 May 2010 1318 #

    Haha, cardboard boxes held together by tape – reminds me of Delhi airport

  3. Kim 31 May 2010 1038 #

    Sounds like a cool place to wander around and observe, definitely feel the draw to such destinations.

  4. inka 1 June 2010 0519 #

    Well, why not enjoy a terminal which is far from perfect. Thanks very much for this detailed report. Now I know what to expect when I hit there later this year.

  5. Robert 2 June 2010 0941 #

    Sounds like an exciting place!

    • Johnson 10 September 2010 0742 #

      Sounds like an excitng place!!!! You must be joking. It is a place no-one in their minds wants to go to. Terminal 2 is the worse, slowest, most uncaring airport I have ever visited. AVOID it.

  6. Heather 2 June 2010 1911 #

    Oh Dubai Airport. It’s just so huge, so busy and there’s always delays. We try to fly through Abu Dhabi instead. Much quieter and calmer, and you still get to dream about all the interesting destinations on the board. : )

  7. Leng | Globe Nomads 2 July 2010 1517 #

    This is interesting place. I would presume it should be much cheaper for airlines to use Terminal 2. I shall be checking Terminal 2 out if I stop over at Dubai.

  8. Aref 29 July 2010 0033 #

    Our dillema will start after 24 hours, but we are mentally well programmed for it. I had some previous information, but your report definitely helps us be better prepared.

  9. Obaida 19 January 2011 1738 #

    hmmmmm, I shall fly from DXB T2 on board Fly Dubai, the new LCC of the UAE, many people recommended Air Arabia for me, yet the price was way better, now after I booked my ticket, i thought of see what does T2 looks like “I flew from T1 & T3″ & honestly, you prepared me to what to expect.

  10. Marie 17 March 2011 1047 #

    What a cool report! Terminal 2 sounds like an intriguing place – and so different from the rest of the golden, glimmering Dubai airport.

  11. Sabina 2 October 2011 0734 #

    I don’t know what terminal it was, but when I first landed in Dubai at 3:00 in the morning I had to walk the greatest distance I’d ever walked inside an aiport just to get to the passport line. It seemed like I walked for at least 20 minutes, and I’m a fast walker. Although maybe not in the middle of the night. ;)
    Sabina recently posted..You’ve Got to Be Tough to Be a Cat in Israel

  12. Airport Transfers Dublin 25 July 2013 1804 #

    I have picked up a few customers who have just been to Dubai and they say the exact same you are saying! That it is too big, especially if you have children or old people with you.

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