The fifth Arab Aviation and Media Summit (AAMS) concluded yesterday with speakers in broad agreement about the positive outlook for the Middle East’s aviation and tourism industry, despite the potential impact from a number of existing and emerging challenges.
More than 200 industry leaders, government officials and journalists attended the 2015 conference, which this year was held in Manama in partnership with Bahrain’s Ministry of Transportation & Telecommunications and Bahrain Airport Company.
The event began with a keynote address from His Excellency Engineer Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications, Kingdom of Bahrain, who highlighted the importance of investing in both infrastructure and talent to support growth. His Excellency provided an update on the Bahrain International Airport modernization programme, which is anticipated to act a catalyst for further growth in passenger numbers, s well as the important role that the successful Bahrain International Airshow has played in developing the aviation sector.
Other speakers and panelists included Hussain Dabbas, Regional Vice President, IATA; Abdelwahab Teffaha, Secretary General, Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO); Fouad Attar, Managing Director, Airbus Middle East; Ahmed Al Nemah, Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunication’s Acting Under Secretary for Civil Aviation Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain; Mohamed Yousif Al Binfalah, Chief Executive Officer, Bahrain Airport Company; Jerad Bachar, Executive Director Tourism & Leisure, Bahrain Economic Development Board; Omer Kaddouri, Chief Executive Officer & President, Rotana (UAE); Kapil Kaul, CEO South Asia, CAPA (India); Haitham Mattar, Chief Executive Officer, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (UAE); Andrew Gordon, Director Strategic Marketing & Analysis, Airbus; and Mario Segovia Sman, Head of Business Development MENA, Amadeus.
Among the themes emanating from the conference was the strategically important role that aviation and tourism continue to play in the ongoing development of Arab economies by creating employment, attracting visitors and helping to market cities and countries to overseas investors.
There was broad consensus among participants that aviation and tourism are set for a period of sustained growth in the Middle East, driven particularly by internal demand and the growing importance of the neighbouring regions of Africa and Asia. However, some participants believe growth will be significantly higher if key issues such as infrastructure and regulatory constraints, environmental concerns, the slowdown in world trade, and the need to recruit tens of thousands of skilled professionals, are dealt with effectively.
This year’s edition of the event also featured ‘The Little Engineer’ workshop, an edutainment workshop that aims to instill a passion for science, technology and engineering among young nationals, as well as a special IMAX screening of ‘Living in the age of airplanes’ a National Geographic production documentary film. Both were supported by Airbus and Air Arabia.
The AAMS is industry-led initiative supported by organisations including Airbus Middle East, Air Arabia Group, CFM, Amadeus, Alpha Aviation and ITP Group, among others. The event is held in a different Arab city each year with details of the next host city scheduled to be announced in mid-2016.