MEBA organizers predict strong showing next month

 - October 27, 2010, 6:21 AM

This year’s Middle East Business Aviation show, to be held in Dubai December 7 to 9, is set to be the biggest event yet. According to Fairs & Exhibitions, the company that organizes the ­biennial event, the 2010 show will have about 40 percent more exhibitors than in 2008, with 350 companies booked. The number of trade visitors is expected to climb by around 27 percent to reach 7,000.

“We are pleased with the growth,” said Alison Weller, managing director of Fairs & Exhibitions’ aerospace division. “The Middle East is still a priority to business aviation companies. Everyone is suffering from budget cuts, but the Middle East is still a major focus for [companies’] marketing plans.”

As of early last month, about 300 exhibitors had booked space at MEBA. Following the end of the Ramadan holiday, organizers have been taking a rush of bookings and expect to see many more Middle Eastern aircraft operators and service providers signing up in the coming weeks.

MEBA’s exhibitor list has a strong Middle Eastern flavor, reflecting the growth in the local industry since the show began as a one-day conference as part of the wider Dubai Air Show in November 2005.

“There is far more diversification in the Middle Eastern business aviation ­sector today,” Weller told AIN. “New companies are being started all the time to fill gaps in the market.” Saudi ­Arabia remains the region’s biggest country for business aviation, but the United Arab Emirates (including Dubai) is close behind and the market is now more widely spread to include other Arabian Gulf states such as Qatar and Kuwait.

Among the first-time exhibitors this year will be Qatar Executive and Saudia Private Aviation. These companies are part of the growing trend for established airlines–in this case Qatar Airways and Saudi Airlines–to branch out into higher-yield private aviation services.

MEBA is once again being staged at the Dubai Airport Expo convention center. This year, indoor exhibits will extend from the facility’s Central Hall into the East Hall. There will also be some 30 two-level chalets along the front of a static line that is expected to feature more than 70 aircraft. The increasingly busy Dubai International Airport, where the center is located, has managed to provide some additional airport parking.

The show has the support of all the world’s leading business aircraft manufacturers, including Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Dassault, Embraer, Gulfstream, Hawker Beechcraft and Sikorsky. Aircraft on display will range from the largest airliner-class models to new very light jets. Honeywell will also be exhibiting at MEBA for the first time, and the list also includes Western business aviation services groups with established Middle Eastern operations, including Jet Aviation, ExecuJet, Comlux and Gama.

The MEBA show is held in cooperation with the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), whose chief executive, Ali Al Naqbi, is increasing its staff with a view to arranging more events and services for members (140 from the Middle East and North Africa). On the day after this year’s show, it will host an International Business Aviation Council meeting.

According to Fairs & Exhibitions, MEBA is the world’s third largest business aviation trade show, after NBAA in the U.S. and Europe’s Ebace. The last MEBA show in November 2008 saw approximately $1.5 billion in new deals announced. “Signs are that the world economy is at the start of its upturn and over the next two years business aviation will again be considered a vital business tool for corporate [executives] who need to get swiftly to where the deals are being made,” concluded Weller.

More information about this year’s show can be found at