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AI transforming the aerospace industry in the UAE

Day one of the Global Aerospace Summit showcased how technological advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, blockchain and connectivity are transforming the aerospace, aviation, space and defence industries.

The importance of partnerships, collaborations, and youth engagement were highlighted by a number of key participants including Mubadala, Etihad Aviation Group, Lockheed Martin, UAE Space Agency, Facebook, Hyperloop One and many others.

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His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmad Al Bawardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs pointed out the fact that the UAE is the first country to appoint a minister for artificial intelligence, and highlighted an ambitious goal of establishing a settlement on Mars by 2117.

Khaled Al Qubaisi, Chief Executive Officer, Aerospace, Renewables & ICT for Mubadala was interviewed by CNN’s John Defterios in which he talked about the Middle East region being one of the fastest growing aviation and aerospace markets in the world, driven largely by surging tourism, booming economies, and the great geographic location.

He said that it is expected to see an annual growth of 6% in air traffic for the next 2 decades, that’s 30% above the global average.

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Tony Douglas, Group CEO, Etihad Aviation Group spoke about the airline’s mandate is to extend Abu Dhabi to the world.

He said: “This is one of the most competitive industries. Many airline brands no longer exist. At Etihad Airways, we have built something that is truly special and thrived for the past 15 years, but there is always a need to innovate, innovate and innovate.  Two-thirds of the world’s population live within a 6-hour radius, In our line of work, the network is all important.”

Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of FlyDubai said: “We have developed our nation by taking part of our geographical location in the world. Over the past 10 years, we have managed to establish a network of 95 locations, 60 of which were not previously served. 600,000 people benefited from our code share agreement with Emirates, which has resulted in a combined network of more than 200 destinations. Collaboration with international governments has also been productive.”

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Marillyn Hewson, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corporation said that His Highness Sheikh Zayed’s focus on the future continues with today’s leaders in the UAE, as they drive progress across the emirates. The UAE is an example for the world of what a nation can achieve when wise leaders put in place sound policies, enable long-term cooperation and sustained investment in people and innovation.

She said: “We recognize the tremendous promise and the key role that the aerospace industry can play in building the future through innovation.”

“Public private partnerships must focus on driving innovation. The most effective public private partnerships focus on the long-term goal of building up the talents and capabilities of the nation,” she added.

Harj Dhaliwa, Managing Director Middle East & India, Hyperloop One spoke about his company offering a brand new mode of transport. Combining space, aerospace and rail engineering technology into one. He said: “We will be giving time back. 300 to 500 kilometers can be done in half an hour. It will disrupt logistics, cargo, the way we plan and  move and how we get to work. It will be bring jobs, economic growth and opportunities. We have proven the technology works.”

David Hansell, Public Policy Manager at Facebook explained the reasons why his company has created programmes to connect rural connectivity and populations that are under connected. He said that individual advances have been made in batteries, satellites, composite materials by a lot of great companies are allowing them to create new modes of connectivity across the world.

He said: “We want to disrupt the isolation people have in terms of lack of communications. We want to create connections across the world.”

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Dr. Steven Griffiths, Khalifa University said: “We are spending a lot of time focusing on what is coming from Ministry of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, data science and manufacturing institutions. We have a project on sustainable biomass to create sustainable jet fuel.”

“We have centers in autonomous robotic systems and an important focus on cyber security and advanced materials. We have become a top 100 university in the world,” he added.

Omar Al Mahmood, ICT fund said: “Every year we receive global submissions on how we can better use drones for good and the best applications are highlighted. One example is Sanad – a company that created a drone life buoy ring launched to rescue drowning victims in time before rescue services.”