A highlight of next week's Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show in Dubai will be the lavishly appointed widebody private jets. Arabia's royalty and super-rich expect from their personal airliners every comfort they enjoy on the ground.

But it is the less-glamorous medium-size and -range sectors that indicate where this market is heading. Dubai's growing status as a global trading hub and the desire by oil- and gas-rich Gulf states to diversify their economies has stirred up an insatiable demand for fast, efficient and secure corporate air transport as Western executives, financiers and local businessmen jet into the region.

Not only that, but, thanks to its location, Dubai itself is emerging as a business aviation hub between Europe and Asia.

For an industry already reaping the benefits of a recovering US business aviation market, this is further good news. Widebody jets have featured for some time in the Gulf, but interest in Citations, Challengers, Falcons, Gulfstreams, Hawkers and Learjets is on the up.

However, there are concerns - and the new Middle East Business Aviation Association has been set up to help deal with these. So far, Gulf infrastructure is coping. But just as Dubai's building boom has seen its highways become constant jams, airport access and congestion could soon be an issue as pressure on capacity rises. Gulf Cooperation Council countries are gradually opening their economies, but differing regulations and restrictions remain a barrier to trade.

And there is the T word. The Arabian peninsula has been largely free of fundamentalist terrorism for years, but straddles some of the most deadly political faultlines in the world.

All this will be far from the minds of attendees at the initial MEBA. With operators admitting they do not have the aircraft to meet demand, a lot of metal and dollars could change hands next week.

Source: Flight International