The UAE flagship airlines are commencing daily non-stop flights to Washington DC - Dubai's Emirates Airline this week and Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways next March.
The direct flights reflect the rapidly growing commercial aviation industry in the UAE and highlight the importance of increased access to markets in the United States for both airlines.
Aviation plays a key role in the US-UAE trade relationship, which experienced a record US$18.34 billion (Dh67.36bn) in total trade last year. The UAE, America's top export destination in the broader Middle East and North Africa region, netted $15.89bn in US exports during the year and aviation products comprised the largest subset at $3.63bn. Buoyed by Emirates' and Etihad's growing ledgers of American aircraft and parts, the trade relationship is poised for further expansion as bilateral market exposure rises.
Logistically, these new routes benefit more countries than just the UAE and the US. Aviation experts judge the UAE is within a six-hour flight of nearly 60 per cent of the world's population. With the launch of the flights, 60 per cent of the world will have the opportunity to use Dubai and Abu Dhabi as transit hubs for international travel to Washington and the broader US. Moreover, these new modes of travel will inevitably attract new customers - local and international.
Notably, Emirates and Etihad employ thousands of Americans and Emiratis globally and are leading customers of American aircraft makers. These new flights will translate into the direct creation and sustainability of Emirati and American jobs spanning the commercial aviation industry. From component suppliers to flight attendants, hundreds of job opportunities will be created for both nationalities as the economies of both countries grow stronger.
For its part, the UAE is building its commercial aviation industry from the ground up.
Recently, Strata Manufacturing, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Aerospace, won a contract to serve as Boeing's first Middle Eastern supplier of aerostructures for its 787 Dreamliner plane through 2020. Mubadala Development is a strategic investment company owned by the Abu Dhabi Government.
Moreover, Strata is projected to expand capacity and create up to 10,000 jobs by 2030. The US is a key partner in this effort under the UAE's broader push to diversify its economy.
Opportunity for foreign direct investment and trade between the US and UAE continues to grow. These growth areas span several economic sectors including: transport (aviation being a key component), infrastructure, energy (oil and gas, renewables and civilian nuclear), health care, education, media and culture and tourism.
As Emirates and Etihad continue to expand their American networks, travellers from the US, UAE and around the world will benefit from broader access to world-class products, businesses and services.
Strategically, this route also strengthens the deep ties between the US and the UAE.
First and foremost, the nations share the same priority to promote peace and stability in the Middle East at a time of heightened tension and conflict. As a close ally in this regard, the UAE is doing its part to contribute and take a leading role in maintaining regional security in close coordination with US and other allied forces.
The US Navy's largest port of call outside the US is located at Jebel Ali port in Dubai and Emirati troops regularly carry out humanitarian and security missions alongside American troops in Afghanistan.
Notably, the UAE is one of three countries and the only Arab nation to participate with the US in five coalition efforts over the past 20 years: Afghanistan; Libya; Somalia; Bosnia-Kosovo; and the 1990 First Iraq War.
The Washington market presents a unique opportunity for the UAE's flagship airlines to boost their corporate profiles in the US.
For both countries, this is a chance to merge commercial and political interests to enhance an already strong partnership.
By connecting the Washington metropolitan area to the UAE, the airlines will create a pathway to increase international commerce while working to solidify the UAE's stance as a global aviation hub.
Danny Sebright is the president of the US-UAE Business Council, based in Washington, and the head of the Middle East practice at The Cohen Group.