updated 2/19/2006 5:21:48 PM ET 2006-02-19T22:21:48

This booming Gulf emirate awash in oil profits said Sunday it would invest $15 billion to develop a range of airport and aircraft businesses aimed at cashing in on massive growth in air passenger traffic in the Mideast and Asia.

A new company dubbed Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) was created Sunday by government-linked developers with plans to invest heavily in 14 segments of the fast-growing airline and aerospace industry.

Dubai already owns Emirates Airlines, one of the world's most profitable, and one of the busiest hubs. It also plans to construct a second airport. The emirate now hopes to widen its reach by selling its expertise to China and India, where some 145 new airports are planned over the next decade, the consortium announced.

"Within 10 years, DAE will become an integral part of the global aerospace industry and a leading player," said Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, a member of Dubai's ruling family who heads Dubai's civil aviation department.

Most of Dubai's signature mega-projects have sprouted from investments in the real estate sector, with developers building hundreds of skyscrapers and square-mile blocks of luxury housing - some of it on reclaimed islands in the Gulf.

The aerospace investment signals a new tack for the booming tourist hub, which aims to compete in an industry in which, for now, Dubai is chiefly a customer.

Dubai's aerospace development plans come amid a buying spree of airlines by Middle Eastern carriers, whose profits and routes have been expanding.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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