The 13th edition of the Dubai Airshow (Chalet D-50) is expected to break its own record of 56,548 attendees in 2011 to more than 60,000 visitors this year, a 6-percent increase. The show will also have a bigger defense presence, particularly from the U.S., and as the region’s commercial aviation ambitions expand, many aircraft orders are expected to be signed, said Sharief Fahmy, CEO of F&E Aerospace, which is responsible for the event’s management.
This is the first time the show will be held on the outskirts of Dubai in Jebel Ali at the new Dubai World Central (DWC) Al Maktoum International Airport site. The theme of the show is “Green,” an initiative that started with the dismantling of original permanent structures formerly located at Dubai International Airport, which were moved and rebuilt at DWC. The completed site will be delivered by the end of September, confirmed Michele van Mkelijen, managing director of F&E. The cost of the mammoth task of transplanting hundreds of palm trees has not deterred the government from carrying out its recycling mission.
The Dubai Airshow, which supports the UN World Food Program (WFP), is also setting up a humanitarian pavilion to highlight the role of aircraft in bringing aid during crises. For the first time, visitors to the show will have an option to donate to three charities including WFP and Red Crescent, with the decision on the third charity pending. Under another program, students are being encouraged to participate, with a prize offered for the best-designed UAV.
When asked if he expects more business by way of more events in the future and the possible award of Expo 2020 to Dubai, Fahmy said that with the Middle East growing exponentially, “We are still seeing a hungry appetite. The fever to (head for) Dubai is catching on. The Middle East is no longer an emerging country but a growing one. Those who don’t see that are missing out.”
Meanwhile, although Fahmy said that while Dubai is a complement and follow-up to the “the two big airshows,”–Paris and Farnborough–it is clear there might be a definite shift in priorities of exhibitors. Already, close discussions are on with the U.S government “about what they should come to Dubai,” he said.