Mubadala Development Company Managing Director and Group CEO Khaldoon Al Mubarak addressed the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi last week and said that although the Gulf region faces ongoing economic tests, the UAE will not diverge from its long-term plan to expand business.
Al Mubarak said the the UAE is an “oasis of security in this region” at the summit hosted by Mubadala, established by Abu Dhabi to create partnerships and investments that aid economic growth and diversification. He added that the UAE will continue to explore economic development during challenging times as the country makes plans in terms of decades, not months or years.
“It is critical for any business to reflect on economic challenges as well as those on the horizon,” Al Mubarak said. “No globally focused business can be immune to the current economic conditions. What is critical is how you react to these challenges. The UAE has always, and will continue to plan, in terms of decades, rather than months or years.”
Diversifying from the oil and gas industry has been a part of the UAE’s strategic plan, and the country now has an opportunity to explore business options and partnerships in other sectors, specifically the aerospace and aviation realms, Al Mubarak said. He went on to say that both industries are the backbone of the UAE’s economic infrastructure and the current financial environment only strengthens that commitment.
“Operational efficiency is always vital in the face of volatility, but our strategic direction remains clear and our long-term focus remains intact,” Al Mubarak said.
Etihad Airways President and CEO James Hogan detailed how the airline's strategic vision has always been focused on innovation, diversification and taking advantage of a global market through code sharing, alliances and investments. He went on to say how that Etihad Airways, the summit's official airline, has continuously built a strong culture of collaboration.
“Our partnerships with pioneering firms such as Masdar, Boeing, Total, IBM and SAP have opened up major opportunities for us by working as one source across the Aviation Group,” Hogan said. “For us it's about economic and operational cooperation and looking at synergies that focus on guest experience and choice. Innovation such as The Residence was a result of a seven-year research and development program led by Etihad Design Consortium which today has changed the flying experience.”
“Other examples of innovation include our work with Masdar on fog prediction, our new digital innovation program and the fact that we are developing the very best guest experience for our new home - the Midfield Terminal Building,” Hogan said. “We are working with technology experts to develop smarter maintenance and smarter baggage systems. No one has the monopoly on innovation - ideas can occur anywhere in the organization by anyone. We must stay flexible and agile - in a world growing at different rates. The Global Aerospace Summit gives us a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas and think about new solutions to challenges and we are delighted to welcome industry leaders to Abu Dhabi.”
Dr. Mohammed Al Ahbabi, director general of the UAE Space Agency, said the agency sees space as a key element for diversification and transformation of the economy from a resources-based economy to a knowledge based economy.
“The UAE Space Agency recognizes the importance of space exploration in the greater context of advancing humanities legacy," Al Ahbabi said. "We are firm believers in working together with all competent entities in the field of space toward the common goal of fostering the well-being of humankind.”
“The development of space technologies and the space sector are catalysts for economic development and diversification,” Al Ahbabi said. “It creates job opportunities and allows us to enable scientists and engineers to become pioneers of an industry that can bring huge benefits to our daily lives. Many technologies that we use today stem from the developments made within the space industry.”