The Middle East Business Aviation Association is at EBACE to promote what it says is the sector’s next big event – September’s MEBAA show in Morocco – with founding and executive chairman Ali Alnaqbi promising its new location of Marrakech will attract more delegates than its 2015 precedessor in Casablanca.
Whereas Casablanca is the North African kingdom’s commercial hub, Marrakech is its biggest tourist destination and will pull in high-net-worth buyers who want to combine their visit with a family holiday, says Alnaqbi, who last year marked his organisation’s 10th birthday.
Morocco – which has alternated with Dubai as the location for the annual MEBAA show – is North Africa’s most vibrant economy and home to an emerging aerospace cluster. In addition, its business aviation sector is expanding fast. “The country is close to Europe and the government is promoting itself as the finance centre for the region,” says Alnaqbi. “It has also become much easier to obtain a licence to operate business aircraft there.”
Companies signed up for the 2017 show include Boeing and Gulfstream, as well as service providers Jet Aviation and Jetex, and local charter provider Air Ocean Maroc.
Alnaqbi says MEBAA is also in Geneva this week to “support our peer organisation”, just as it does at the bigger National Business Aviation Association convention in the USA every year. “We work very closely together so there are always lots of meetings to attend,” he says.
Since launching in 2007, Dubai-headquartered MEBAA has expanded its membership to 255 companies. “That has been increasing by at least 10% most years,” says Alnaqbi. “We have done a good job of raising their voice with governments, with airports and with all the stakeholders in the region.”