The flourishing internationally-renowned country the world has come to know today as the United Arab Emirates overcame many obstacles to reach its current prosperity. Younger than many countries regionally, it built its infrastructure, trade and economy in a span of a few decades. One of the major pillars upon which it built its position and status has been its world-famous aviation sector.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s latest report, The Importance of Air Transport to the United Arab Emirates, serves to cement this fact. IATA states that “ongoing prioritization of aviation as a key strategic asset could generate an additional 620,000 jobs and an extra $80 billion in GDP for the nation’s economy by 2037.”
“Air transport’s contribution to the UAE economy is already significant,” the aviation Association continued. “The industry at present supports nearly 800,000 jobs and contributes $47.4 billion to the economy, accounting for 13.3% of the UAE’s GDP. If the government continues to pursue a positive agenda for aviation, the UAE’s aviation market will grow 170% by 2037, support 1.4 million jobs and contribute $128 billion in GDP to the nation’s economy.”
Bolstered by accelerated local developments such as improved infrastructure, new tourist attractions, and job availability, the UAE set itself as a country poised towards a bright future. After all, Dubai, one of its most well-known Emirates, is currently the 4th most visited city in the world. Similarly, Dubai International Airport (DXB) remains the world’s busiest airport for international passengers for a fifth consecutive year.
“It’s no surprise that aviation has become a key cornerstone industry for the UAE,” Saj Ahmad, Chief Analyst at StrategicAero Research, told AMEinfo. “The rapid rise of Emirates since 1985, alongside the commercial, financial and tourist development of Dubai has seen vast swathes of people travel to and through the city – as well as calling it home for millions more expats.”
“The same applies to Abu Dhabi and to a lesser extent with Etihad,” he continued. “The emergence of Air Arabia and flydubai in quick succession highlights the systematic evolution of air travel with low cost fares and new city pair expansion creating new networks allowing access to more of the UAE than ever before.
“It helps that the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), alongside Dubai’s and Abu Dhabi’s progressive, aggressive and yet modern aviation policies have ensured both cities harness the income factor by way of their respective airlines, feeding into the hotel, commerce and retail industries. Continued investment across the UAE, coupled with liberal rules has helped further bolster the appeal.”
IATA identified three areas where government action can promote aviation’s growth and bring even more value to the UAE:
- Increase airspace capacity to ease congestion and meet future demand: Airspace capacity in the region has not kept pace with the growth in demand, which is leading to significant delays particularly in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council member countries). Governments in the region must replace political fragmentation with collaborative cross-border decision-making to ensure that the global competitiveness of the region’s hubs is not affected.
- Align infrastructure investments with expected growth: The UAE is well-known for the foresight of its government in developing airport infrastructure that is affordable. Future infrastructure investments must provide enough capacity to meet market demand and ensure airline technical and service level needs are aligned and remain affordable.
- Continue to leverage new technology and process innovation to enhance efficiency and passenger experience: The UAE is a pioneer in using innovation to improve the passenger experience. Fast adoption of new technology and initiatives to integrate aviation with future modes of transportation will enhance the competitiveness of the UAE as an aviation hub.