His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA), welcomed the joining of the initial group of elite governmental entities and multinational companies from the aviation sector in Dubai to the Future Aviation Lounge (FAL), an initiative that was recently launched by His Highness (H.H.) Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. FAL is a first-of-its-kind business social network based on artificial intelligence (AI) technology that foresees the future of the global aviation sector and related industries.
The initiative promotes dialogue and close cooperation among individuals and entities involved in Dubai’s aviation industry–pushing the sector towards growth and prosperity and increases its economic contributions. This first platform targets government agencies, multinational companies, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), academia and experts in the aviation sector, which promotes collaborative efforts and collective innovation. It also widens the role of enterprises and individuals in accelerating the growth of the sector and increases its share in Dubai’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA) and Dubai Airports have been at the forefront in support of the new platform. The pioneering group of members that have expressed their confidence in the pivotal role of the initiative for the further development and growth of the international aviation industry, include Airbus, Boeing, GE, Rolls-Royce, Thales ME, Panasonic Avionics and Jetex.
H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum expressed his confidence in the initiative, which forms part of DAFZA’s continuous efforts to enhance its operational, knowledge and development performance of the aviation sector. This is in line with the expectations of the increase in the share of the aviation sector to AED 195 billion or 37.5 per cent of Dubai’s GDP and providing around 745,000 jobs in 2020. He highlighted the importance of the participation of major local and international companies in FAL, which contributes to the move to promote Dubai as one of the leading cities in terms of smart technology–making the UAE one of the most innovative countries in the world and in support of ‘DAFZA Innovation Strategy’ the objectives that are aligned with the broader National Innovation Strategy.
H.H added: “The aviation sector is one of the most important parts in the country’s economic structure, accounting to around ten per cent of the country’s total GDP and 28 per cent of Dubai’s. This sector has accomplished huge achievements in record time, which is a result of the vision and support of our country’s wise leadership, especially towards sustainable growth and operational expansion and driving in more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the UAE. We believe that innovation has become a key driver to anticipate the future and overcome its challenges, so we expect the network to facilitate the system of collective work between different representatives of agencies, industry experts and students, to help stimulate the process of innovation accompanied with high efficiency and wide spread interest of the aviation sector locally and globally.”
H.E. Dr. Mohammed Al Zarooni, Director General, DAFZA, said: “The initiative was highly appreciated and regarded by leading industry players. We are grateful to our strategic partners for their contribution to the success of ‘Future Aviation Lounge’ and welcome the participation of industry experts and leaders in this initiative. The Future Aviation Lounge embodies our aspiration for the future of the global aviation industry.” He added: “This initiative comes in response to the leadership’s inspiring support for the aviation sector and its contribution to the economic boom in Dubai and the UAE, which represents an important step in harnessing artificial intelligence technology to achieve the highest levels of productivity and economic growth. The move also comes in line with the UAE’s strategic goals and objectives and we believe that the free zones have a leading role in the transfer of knowledge and the promotion of economic and cognitive competitiveness, which has a direct impact on economic and social development–positive results that we wish to achieve from FAL.”
H.E. Mohammed Abdulla Ahli, Director General of Dubai Civil Aviation Authority (DCAA), said: “We joined DAFZA’s ‘Future Aviation Lounge’ thanks to the support of H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, President of DCAA as well as the cooperation and coordination with all entities involved in civil aviation sector and in line with the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai to make Dubai number one in all areas”. He added that through this unique platform, aviation professionals and experts will have the opportunity to discuss, share knowledge, hold meetings and conduct electronic workshops to enhance their competitive features and deepen their knowledge and expertise to develop civil aviation in Dubai and the world.
For his part, H.E. Jamal Al Hai, Deputy CEO at Dubai Airports, stressed the importance of this initiative, adding that it is a quality-focused addition to the aviation sector, which serves as a a strategic pillar for the national economy. “We are moving towards aggressively utilizing artificial intelligence and smart solutions across all sectors of the economy. With this in mind, FAL will allow us to recognize global best practices in the aviation industry, which is rapidly changing and building the best relationships for the benefit of the global aviation industry. In addition, we recently launched the DXB Plus initiative as part of our reliance on smart technology to gain more capacity without building any new buildings and enhance the experience of more than 90 million passengers who will use Dubai International Airport by the end of this year and make their journey through the airport a great experience.”
Mikail Houari, President of Airbus Middle East and Africa, said: “We are delighted and honored to join our partner, DAFZA, and become part of the Future Aviation Lounge. We have long demonstrated our commitment to advancing the aviation sector in the region by developing innovative solutions to shared sector challenges, creating and supporting a highly-skilled talent pool to drive the industry forward. Through our participation we will continue to foster young talent, ensure knowledge transfer and further grow the industry in line with the UAE vision to be one of the top innovative countries in the world.”
Bernard Dunn, President of Boeing Middle East, North Africa and Turkey said: “Innovation is at the core of what we do at Boeing, and so we are very pleased to support the Future Aviation Lounge initiative. We look forward to participating in this plan to build a robust community of bright minds and creative thinkers from across Dubai and the UAE’s aviation sector.”
“GE Aviation is a major supporter of collaborative efforts in the aviation industry,” said Aziz Koleilat, President and CEO of GE Aviation Sales for the Middle East, Russia/Commonwealth of Independent States and Turkey. “The Future Aviation Lounge’s goal of bringing together a cross-section of industry, government and academic leaders to create innovative solutions to aviation challenges is a natural fit with our business efforts and we look forward to playing a significant role in this effort.”
Neil James, Vice President of the Middle East, Central & Southern Asia and Africa regions for Panasonic Avionics Corporation said, “Airlines in this region are world-renowned for their commitment to innovation and the provision of world-class passenger experience. In fact, over the past 20 years, there have been countless industry firsts developed in Dubai. Panasonic Avionics is proud to support the Future Aviation Lounge, and we look forward to working with industry leaders, government agencies and academia to accelerate the introduction of new technologies and services that will revolutionize air travel.”
Roger Daix, VP of Thales Middle East, noted, “As the aviation market continues to grow in the region, we are proud to be part of DAFZA’s Future Aviation Lounge. Networks like this will prove an invaluable resource that will go some way in ensuring the continued success of the UAE’s future aviation market.”
As the aviation sector continues to grow, innovation, collaboration and knowledge exchange become increasingly critical to the industry’s success and will drive operational excellence,” said Amr Refaat, General Manager, IBM Middle East & Pakistan. “Through the IBM Connection Suite, members of Future Aviation Lounge will become more integrated and social in how they communicate, innovate and make decisions.”
Users will be able to access the network through all digital platforms and smart devices. Connectivity to the digital cloud, IBM’s AI solution for business, will facilitate the easy management of content, presentations and collaboration among members. The platform allows users to create their professional profiles, share scientific and practical ideas and suggestions through blogs, and stimulate joint action by creating internal groups and engaging in interactive discussions among members.
Through this initiative, DAFZA aims to enhance direct communication with its existing and potential partners, especially that the aviation segment is recognized as one of its major sectors, which plays a significant role in attracting foreign investments, multinational and international companies and creating a new future for the sector—further reinforcing its role as a major contributor to the global economy.
DAFZA has always been a pioneer in its commitment to guidance leadership, which stems from its belief in the importance of the aviation sector and its role in promoting the comprehensive development process in the country as well as enhancing the role of the UAE as a bridge connecting the country to the rest of the world.