Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2013-10-01

Dubai Airshow is the fastest growing airshow in the world:Sharief Fahmy, CEO, Dubai Airshow

By: Jasem Shaheen
 
The 13th edition of the Dubai Airshow, slated to be the biggest so far, will be held at its new venue, the Dubai World Central, during 17-21 November. The airshow has seen continuing growth with a record 60,000 visitors and over 1,000 exhibitors expected this year. Lt. Col. Sharief Fahmy, who recently joined the Dubai Airshow as the Chief Operating Officer, talks to Nation Shield on the new features at the show and the challenges the relocation to the more exciting venue provided.
 
You are joining the Dubai Airshow after completing a distinguished 23-year career in the US Air Force (USAIF). How do you view the new assignment?
It has been a very smooth transition for me since I joined in June.  As a former customer of Fairs & Exhibitions during both Dubai Airshow 2009 and 2011, I have experienced first-hand the quality that F&E Aerospace has to offer.  The Dubai Airshow has an amazing history and tradition of excellence -I am truly honored to join the team at such an exciting time.
 
Most recently you served for five years at the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi as an international regional area strategist when you led the US government to their successful participation in the last two Dubai Airshows and last three editions IDEX. Can you comment on that experience and the challenges it offered?
The 23 years of public service at the US Embassy diplomatic mission, is truly one of the greatest honors of my professional career. I am truly humbled by the experience in my tenure and look forward to building on them in my new role as CEO of F&E Aerospace. In many ways the Airshow is home to the Aerospace community and I see my new position as an extension to my former career and look forward to serving the aviation community.
 
Dubai Airshow 2011 saw a total order book of $ 63.3 billion and total trade visitors of 56,548 up by 7 per cent from the previous edition. With organization getting bigger and better, to what extent are these likely to go up?
As witnessed over the past 26 years, the Dubai Airshow is rated as the fastest growing airshow in the world and as rightly mentioned, the last show totaled $63.3 billion in orders and we expect to see a healthy level of deals made at the show. Moreover the Dubai Airshow prides itself on providing the ideal platform and opportunity for the aerospace industry to meet and connect with all the right people in one location.  If you want to do business in the Middle East and specifically the Aviation industry, this show held once every two years, is an event not to be missed. Visitor registration is now open to at www.dubaiairshow.aero/register
We are preparing for the 13th edition of the Dubai Airshow to be the biggest yet and given our new location we expect to see continuing growth with expected numbers of up to 60,000 attendees and over 1,000 exhibitors - making the move to the new venue particularly well timed as we have more than double the amount of space compared to our previous site. 
 
The major challenge for you this time and a big surprise for visitors to the Dubai Airshow 2013 is the shifting of show to Dubai World Central (DWC) Jebel Ali. Apart from the sheer growth of the show, what were the other reasons for the relocation?
We simply outgrew the old venue at Airport Expo and it is no longer available with the extension of the A380 terminal and the fact Dubai International Airport is now one of the world’s busiest airports. However Dubai recognizes the importance of hosting events like the Dubai Airshow and has invested in a wonderful new venue for the show. 
 
We are also supporting Dubai’s bid to host the Expo and if Dubai is successful, our new Airshow venue is situated near the Dubai World Central. So it is exciting for us and all of Dubai, as Expo 2020 will benefit both the city and the Dubai Airshow as it would mean expanding the city even further with retail, commercial and hospitality opportunities. It will become a city inside a city.
 
The shifting of the same permanent structures formerly located at Dubai International Airport (DXB) to DWC was another challenge. How have you managed to keep it on schedule?
The relocation plan has been in motion for the past five years. We have had the support from Dubai Aviation Engineering Projects (DAEP) and our shareholders in executing the move.
 
We have all worked very closely together on the design and construction of the purpose built venue – teamwork, collaboration and a two way relationship has led to what we are calling the ‘ideal venue’ as it includes larger freight access, the land side is in a better location and one large exhibition hall rather than the three separate halls we had at the last venue.
 
In terms of the floor area and number of halls etc, what are the major upgrades at the November 2013 Airshow? 
The exhibition space and footprint will now total 645,000 sqm in size, making it more than double the size of the old site at Airport Expo. The purpose built show site will offer a larger static park with fewer flying restrictions, improved media and catering facilities and also three times more parking spaces than at the previous site.
 
Though Dubai Airshow is truly international, how would you describe the participation from other GCC countries as well as countries from South Asia?
The largest participation at the Airshow comes from the UAE. Back in 1989 we had just 20 UAE exhibitors but the 2011 event saw 200 UAE companies. People from the UAE are also our largest visitor audience. Fifty countries exhibited at last year’s airshow and the other large participations came from the USA, UK, France and Germany. Visitors came from 136 countries and the second largest visitor audience was from Saudi Arabia, followed by Europe, Asia and the Americas.
 
The Futures Day launched in 2011 is to be bigger this year. Can you elaborate?
The Futures Day initiative was introduced at the last show and following the success of 2011 we have seen an overwhelming response from colleges, universities, academies and cadets and we are expecting to hold a truly interactive day catering to all facets of the aviation industry and most importantly reflecting on the quality of students who will be in attendance and ultimately the leaders in tomorrow’s Aerospace industry.
 
What are the new features as the Dubai Airshow goes green this year with a dedicated area at the show?
The venue itself has been built in an environmentally friendly way where possible as some of the exhibitions structure (formerly located at Airport Expo) were deconstructed, moved and reconstructed including the chalets, majlises and even the surrounding trees. As show organizers we have set our efforts on supporting this green initiative at the show itself and this will be seen through out the venue, with recycling areas and where possible using paperless tickets. The media onsite will also be involved in this new initiative as all exhibitors will have the chance to upload their media materials to a digital press box thereby reducing the amount of paper used.
 
Last edition saw the debut of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in the Middle East and international debut of the Al Fursan Aerobatic team from the UAE, flying Aermacchis. What new can we expect this time?
As a team we are excited about the endless possibilities of aircraft to be displayed and in the aerial display - we will be announcing the aircraft being displayed in October when we have confirmations; the list will be published online at www.dubaiairshow.aero. I am pleased to announce, the UAE’s very own Aerobatic team the Al Fursan will be making a return in November.
 
Any other comment you would like to make?
The Dubai Airshow continues to be the region’s leading aerospace event. In addition to the features seen in previous years, this year we aim to highlight how aviation helps to provide humanitarian relief during a crisis. The Dubai Airshow is bringing the UN World Food Program (WFP) and Care by Air together in a new humanitarian pavilion which in turn will showcase more than 15 charitable organizations, air operators and supporters in order to encourage more key players to join in, raise awareness and garner support for their crucial work. 
 
This year’s Dubai Airshow will also see the return of the Middle East’s dedicated training event for the aviation industry the Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE), taking place on 18-19 November and Futures Day will also return on 21 November - the final day of the show. For the first time, we will be launching a separate public area called Skyview at the Dubai Airshow enabling a family safe area to watch one of the world’s best flying displays right from the runway, taking place 18-21 November, between 12pm and 6pm.
We believe this year’s show will truly cater for everyone, even more so than in previous years, and we look forward to welcoming all our guests to our new home in Dubai World Central, on 17-21 November.
 

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