More than 1,700 jobs for Emiratis are to be created in the next four years by a government-linked company that provides high-tech repair and maintenance services to the UAE Armed Forces' jets and helicopters.
The bright employment prospects were revealed yesterday by Colonel Fahad Al Shamesi, the chief executive of the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Centre (Ammroc), which is 60 per cent owned by Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi Government's strategic investment company. The current Ammroc workforce numbers 2,200, of which some 400 are Emiratis, Col Al Shamesi said.
"By 2017 the workforce will range from 3,000 to 3,500 and 50 per cent to 60 per cent will be Emirati nationals," he added.
At the top end of predictions that means some 2,100 Emiratis will work for the company in four years' time, some 1,700 more than today.
"What we do is not mainly financial," Col Al Shamesi said. "Now of course we need that financial return but we are looking for a social return also. The social return is a big part of this project."
Ammroc is just one of a clutch of defence-related companies that come under the Tawazun umbrella formed out of the Government's offset programme. It was designed to find international defence contractor partners for UAE projects. The partners then help to develop a domestic defence industry providing training and other assistance.
"People are wondering why is the UAE doing this," Col Al Shamesi said. "This is why. We are creating the leaders of tomorrow with the best skills. One hundred per cent this is mainly the key for us. The whole training life cycle from high schools to universities as colleges come and work with these companies."
Col Al Shamesi also announced the expansion of a service-and-support contract signed by Ammroc and the UAE Armed Forces in 2011. The original contract worth Dh1.15 billion (US$313 million) was yesterday increased by Dh633m.
"It was in 2011 we signed the basic agreement," Col Al Shamesi said. "But this is the strategy of Mubadala Aerospace, that was phase one, and now we are in phase two and three." Under the enlarged contract, Ammroc will provide a range of service and maintenance functions for Armed Forces' jets and helicopters including F16, Mirages, Apaches and refuelling tankers.
"We are not only talking about servicing aircraft. We are talking about becoming a solution provider," Col Al Shamesi said. "That means we are providing an integrated system to give the whole process for maintenance, recruitment, IT systems, quality control, supply chain management, the list goes on."
Col Al Shamesi added that the success of the contract with the UAE Armed Forces would enable the company to move ahead with expansion outside the UAE.
"We have very ambitious plans for Ammroc," he said. "We are not only thinking about the UAE. The next step is going out into the region, and in the region we are talking about South Asia, Middle East and North Africa.
"We will now be looking to market ourselves outside the region. because we will have very solid ground to go out and try to sell ourselves. We didn't want to do it earlier but now we think maybe now is the time to do that."