Business aviation manufacturers must invest more in infrastructure in the Middle East if they want the region to remain a major market for their products, according to one of the Gulf's most influential aerospace players.
Homaid Al Shemmari, executive director of Abu Dhabi's Mubadala Aerospace, is urging the industry to follow the large airliner manufacturers in establishing industrial partnerships as well as training and maintenance facilities.
Speaking at the Middle East Business Aviation Conference in Dubai yesterday, Al Shemmari said that while the UAE was a large buyer of business aircraft, it did not want to "continue in the same game" as a consumer of products rather than an integrated part of the industry.
This was the thinking behind the setting up in 2007 of STRATA in Al Ain - a Mubadala-owned start-up focused on the design and production of composite components for airliners. STRATA is a risk-sharing supplier to Airbus, and will begin manufacturing for Boeing next year, said Al Shemmari.
While these contracts were leveraged on major airliner orders by Abu Dhabi flag-carrier Etihad, business aircraft manufacturers would not need such volume deals to place work with Strata as the investment in the facility had already taken place, he said.
However, Al Shemmari quashed speculation that Abu Dhabi eventually wants to build its own business jets. "Who wants to make a full plane today? We are looking at partnership models," he said.
Any collaborations would have to be based on high-end design engineering rather than low-value production, he added. "What we want to do is combine the technologies of the West and the aspirations of the Middle East, but if the project requires a lot of labour, we will not be doing it."
He said that "people need to think about the Middle East in a different way. We are diversifying our economies and becoming a global player."