Dubai International Airport recorded a sharp jump in passenger numbers in 2010 to 47.2 million, up 15.3% on 2009's figure of 40.9 million.
Passenger throughput for the month of December was 4.2 million, up 11.6% compared with the same month in 2009.
Cargo passing through the airport last year also recovered strongly from 2009's global trade slowdown, surging 17.7% to 2.27 million tonnes.
The annual passenger total beat the predicted total of 46.1 million.
The new Dubai World Central - Al Maktoum International - opened for cargo flights in June 2010 and is intended eventually to become the world's largest airport with capacity for 160 million passengers and 12 million tonnes of freight a year.
Chairman of Dubai Airports and president of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum puts the increased passenger numbers down to a conjunction of factors including the emirate's open skies policy, tax-free environment and pro-aviation approach.
"The growth story continues in 2011 with passenger numbers expected to surge another 11% to 52.2 million," says Dubai Airports CEO Paul Griffiths.
"As a result, we have plans to boost capacity on the ground and in the air to ensure we can accommodate the growth while improving service across the airport."