Development of a sustainable aerospace sector is recognised as a key engine that will help propel Abu Dhabi’s future economic growth
Global Aerospace Summit: succeeding in a changing international landscape
With the fourth edition of the Global Aerospace Summit this week, Abu Dhabi is once again at centre stage in welcoming key voices and international decision makers from the aerospace, aviation, space and defence sectors.
As a pioneering global investor deploying capital to accelerate growth for the long-term benefit of Abu Dhabi, Mubadala hosts the summit identifying these industries at the forefront of our diversifying economy. Aligned with the priorities of the Abu Dhabi Vision 2030, the development of a sustainable aerospace sector is recognised as a key engine that will help propel Abu Dhabi’s future economic growth.
To provide some context, the Middle East is one of the fastest-growing aviation and aerospace markets in the world, driven largely by surging tourist footfall and a strategically important geographic location. By recent estimates from Airbus, the Middle East is expected to see annual growth of 6 per cent in air traffic for the next 20 years, which stands well above the global forecast of 4.6 per cent annual growth. More specifically, the UAE has one of the largest and youngest fleet of aircraft in the region, and its aviation sector alone is valued at $80 billion, providing nearly 500,000 direct and indirect jobs to a population of 9 million people. With the industry set to account for 16 per cent of the nation's GDP by 2025, the future of aerospace and its related industries are highly valued.
The premise is simple, and the evidence too compelling to ignore: emerging aerospace economies such as the Middle East should play a more significant role in the global industry and be more closely embedded in the global supply chain given their strong growth projections over the next decade. Globalisation of the aerospace sector is still in its nascence, but closer cooperation with western original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) will allow all players to share their individual strengths and leverage their competitive advantages to gain cost-reduction opportunities and specialisation advantages in order to thrive in a dynamic travel geography.
Looking at the changing international landscape, in Asia, China continues to increase its importance as an investment partner through the One Belt One Road Initiative (Obor) – an initiative that includes the UAE and wider Arabian Gulf region. India is also continuing to show astounding development, and it is clear that in the decades ahead, the country will become an even more influential player in the Asian market. Rapid economic growth in these nations, has enabled them to push further along the value chain by increasing their capabilities through infrastructure investment, technological improvements, and by benefiting from the overall development in human capital – which offers a larger and more competitive talent pool to draw upon locally. Growth in these markets presents both opportunities and challenges within the industry – creating more competition, but also greater potential for partnerships and sales.
Within the GCC region, big changes are already underway. Nations including Saudi Arabia, and ourselves the UAE, are making concerted efforts to diversify their economies by implementing broad, long-term visions – which have received more attention and have become more urgent due to the recent fall in global oil prices. These bold government strategies are dedicated to developing advanced industries through multifaceted approaches that incorporate investing in cutting-edge technologies, cross collaboration and cultivating local talent.
Globalisation of the aerospace industry is taking shape with emerging markets increasing their capabilities through close connections with advanced economies, primarily in Europe and North America, which have allowed them to forge strong partnerships with established market leaders. These opportunities remain, despite headwinds caused by rising concerns of protectionism from changing political dynamics in the United States, and in a post-Brexit European Union.
Wherever globalisation may take us, the industry’s immediate challenges appear to be an evolving geopolitical landscape and the fast pace of change presented by disruptive technologies. By engaging, exploring and collaborating, we can tackle circumstances that influence the way we connect around the world in a more integrated and considered manner. The Global Aerospace Summit will not only provide opportunities for dialogue among aerospace leaders and decision makers, it will bring about the connections, relationships and knowledge-sharing that can lead to substantive action between nations, among organisations, and even within companies themselves.
In fact, it is through the ethos of engaging, exploring and collaborating that our own successes have been possible at Mubadala. Over the past decade, we have homegrown an aerospace ecosystem, with Nibras as the UAE’s dedicated 5km2 aerospace hub, Strata as the manufacturing arm, TS&S as the MRO provider, and Sanad as the leasing division. With a core infrastructure in place and the businesses developed, we engaged, explored and collaborated with strategic industry partnerships - with OEMs such as Airbus, Boeing, Rolls Royce, GE and Siemens – and it is those partnerships that have enabled us to steadily grow our aerospace ecosystem to what it is today. This growth has permitted us to build our capabilities further – which we have invested in our people to develop our local industry knowledge-base, and it has also caused us to pursue the best in technologies, so that we remain relevant and differentiated in our offerings.
Over the past few years, we have worked closely with international and local partners to develop and utilise game-changing next generation technologies for the aerospace industry, capitalising on the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) through innovations such as 3D printing, the Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence and automation. Not only have we scoured the globe for the most cutting-edge solutions, but we also look within our own business platforms to find areas of synergy and cross-collaboration.
Committed to the best in collaboration both internationally and locally, the Global Aerospace Summit represents our dedication to the aerospace and related industries, and to creating a brighter future for Abu Dhabi and the broader UAE through diversifying its economy.
Khaled Al Qubaisi is the chief executive for aerospace, renewables and information and communications technology at
Mubadala Investment Company