Next month’s MEBA show could double size of last event in Dubai

 - October 1, 2008, 6:14 AM

The strong growth of the Middle East market for business aviation will be evident at the second Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) expo next month. The three-day event, to be staged at Dubai’s Airport Expo Center from November 16 to 18, is projected to grow to twice the size of the first stand-alone MEBA show held over two days in January 2007. A one-day MEBA conference had previously been staged just ahead of the 2005 Dubai airshow, so MEBA 2008 is officially the event’s third edition.

According to MEBA organizer Fairs & Exhibitions, as many as 200 exhibitors from more than 20 countries could be present at the MEBA 2008 event–up from the 90 companies that exhibited at MEBA 2007. Total exhibit floor space is projected to be almost 27,000 sq ft, and there will be an additional 25 chalets and some 70 aircraft on the static display ramp, which is adjacent to the exhibition hall. Some 5,000 visitors are anticipated (compared with 2,400 in 2007).

Fairs & Exhibitions has expanded the show into the second of the Airport Expo Center’s three exhibit halls. The exhibitor list shows increased participation this year from business aviation manufacturers and service providers from the Americas, Asia and Scandinavia.

On current market trends, it seems probable that the first show’s $1 billion tally of new aircraft orders will be exceeded. Much of this growth in the Middle Eastern business aircraft fleet is being driven by the rapid expansion of the executive and VIP charter sector in the oil-rich countries of the Arabian Gulf region. Among the growing number of local charter operators exhibiting at MEBA will be the following: Arab Wings, Bexair, Dana Executive Jets, Elite Jets, FAI rent-a-jet, Gainjet Aviation, Gulf Jet, Imperial Jet, Majestic Executive Aviation, MAZ Aviation, Palm Aviation, Prestige Jet and Royal Jet.

“All eyes are on the Middle East market at the moment and for good reason,” said Alison Weller, director of the aerospace division of Fairs & Exhibitions. “The global business aviation sector is undergoing some interesting transformations as it becomes more diverse in terms of geographic distribution and breadth of aircraft capability available. The Middle East, which is reaping the rewards of rising oil prices and increased liquidity, is emerging as one of the most important and fastest growing business aviation markets found anywhere.”

All leading business aircraft manufacturers are booked to exhibit at MEBA, and the static display will include a variety of models from airframers, including Dassault, Gulfstream, Embraer, Boeing, Cessna, Bombardier, Hawker Beechcraft and Airbus. The Eclipse 500 is scheduled to appear at MEBA for the first time. Cessna will be bringing a full-scale mockup of the new Columbus, and Embraer will be displaying a full-scale mockup of the Lineage 1000. According to organizers, Gulfstream is making plans to bring a full-scale mockup of its new G650 large-cabin jet.

“Currently, we are seeing a 40-percent annual increase in the Middle East’s business aviation sector, which should continue for the next five years,” added Weller. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are driving the momentum here, but the emerging markets of China and India should also record similar growth. This makes this part of the world very interesting indeed for the industry.”

MEBA is organized on behalf of the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA), which now has almost 60 members and expects to increase this number to 300 in the next four years. The organization is based in Dubai under the leadership of president and CEO Ammar Balkar and chairman Ali Al Naqbi.

The MEBA organizing team is exhibiting here in Orlando at Booth No. 919. The event (www.meba.aero), which also features a full conference program on November 16, is backed by senior local aviation officials, including Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation.