Abu Dhabi is today launching a scheme to persuade Western suppliers to set up shop in the Arabian emirate as it pursues its quest of becoming an aerospace powerhouse.

The United Arab Emirates capital is establishing a 25km2 (9.7 miles2) aerospace park at Al Ain airport, outside the emirate's second city, and will this afternoon announce at the show the first of a series of deals with European and North American small and medium-sized enterprises, which plan to relocate there.

A partnership with Bavarian aerospace cluster bavAIRia will see four companies from the German region commit to the park: Aerotech Peissenberg, Aircraft Electronic Engineering, MT Aerospace and Telair International. Further agreements with UK and US businesses will follow during the show.

Anchoring the aerospace park will be a composites manufacturing facility, owned by government investment arm Mubadala and supported by EADS. The venture, which will produce aerostructures for Airbus and other airframers, was announced at last year's Farnborough air show.

The park project is being spearheaded by Abu Dhabi Airports (ADAC), which also runs Abu Dhabi International airport outside the capital city, as well as the Al Bateen air base, which it is converting to a downtown business aviation airport.

Tenants will reap a number of benefits, including government capital equipment subsidies, inflation-protected leases, no corporation or income tax, 100% ownership and a low cost base, says ADAC. The UAE also offers a US dollar-pegged currency, a location close to India and Africa, and a large talent pool of expatriate workers, according to the airport owner.

Abu Dhabi's plans to become a global player in aerospace have seen it vie with - and sometimes partner - its neighbour and rival Dubai with a flurry of high-profile acquisitions, joint ventures and start-ups.

Mubadala owns local maintenance provider Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies (formerly GAMCO) and has stakes in Italian airframer Piaggio and, with Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, in Swiss maintenance, repair and overhaul house SR Technics. Mubadala has signed partnering agreements with General Electric and Rolls-Royce and established a pilot training school at Al Ain.

The moves are part of a long-term strategy by Abu Dhabi to expand its oil-reliant economy into areas such as tourism, commerce and technology, says Zeyad Al Majed, senior project adviser with ADAC. "Given our small population and the standard of living in the UAE, it is clear that our diversification must cover high value-added science and technology-based sectors such as aerospace manufacturing," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News