This year's Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show, to be held in Dubai from December 7 to 9, is set to be the biggest event yet. According to Fairs & Exhibitions, the company that organizes the biennial event, this year's show will have about 40 percent more exhibitors than in 2008, with 350 companies booked. The number of trade visitors is expected to climb to 7,000, an increase of about 27 percent.
Fairs & Exhibitions (Booth No. 4933) is taking exhibition space reservations for MEBA here at the NBAA show. Anyone who signs up this week will go home with a bottle of Champagne.
"We are very 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 their marketing plans." Judging by the 300 or so companies booked as of last week, MEBA's exhibitor list certainly has a strong Middle Eastern flavor, reflecting the growth in the local industry over the past decade.
The Dubai Air Show, also organized by Fairs & Exhibitions, is held in alternate years, with the next edition set for November 13 to 17, 2011. The company has frozen exhibition prices for the event until the end of 2010 and companies committing here at NBAA also will be given a bottle of bubbly.
"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 at this year's MEBA 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, respectively–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 days.
The show has the support of all the world's leading business aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing, Airbus, Gulfstream, Dassault, Bombardier, Embraer, Cessna, 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 Aviation.
The MEBA show (www.meba.aero) is being held in close cooperation with the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA). Its chief executive Ali Al Naqbi is in the process of increasing the group's staff with a view to arranging more events and services for members (140 from across the Middle East and North Africa). On the day after this year's show, it will host a meeting of the International Business Aviation Council, of which MEBAA is a member.
According to Fairs & Exhibitions, MEBA is now the world's third largest business aviation trade show, after NBAA in the U.S. and Europe's EBACE. Weller argued that it provides a far more direct and convenient way to connect with the Middle Eastern market than these events. The last MEBA show in November 2008 saw approximately $1.5 billion in new deals announced.
Meanwhile, Fairs & Exhibitions also has confirmed dates for the third Aircraft Interiors Middle East show. This will be held on Feb. 1 to 2, 2012, also in Dubai.
In addition to exhibitors showcasing the latest in cabin design and fittings, as well as technological innovations, the show will feature workshops for industry professionals. The last event was held in February of this year.