High-level speakers from the UAE and international companies urge students to ‘find their passion’ as top Emirati educational institutions get privileged behind-the-scenes industry access.
Over 3,000 students converged on the final day of the Dubai Airshow for a privileged glimpse into the exciting world – and career opportunities – offered by the global aerospace industry.
“Futures Day is an integral part of the biennial Dubai Airshow calendar as the industry grows exponentially across every sector of the profession. This is a fantastic opportunity for companies to meet with the pilots, engineers, ground operators, ATC controllers and even astronauts of the future, and presents a one-of-a-kind forum for discussion around education, recruitment and training,” said Michele van Akelijen, Managing Director of show organisers F&E Aerospace.
Jointly sponsored by Airbus and Boeing, the Futures Day programme opened with a welcome address delivered by Ali Alnaqbi, Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) that set the scene for the morning’s presentations.
“Studies show that in the coming 20 years, in the engineering and pilot discipline alone, there will be a requirement for 1.1 million new jobs globally, which represents just 20% of all aviation-related positions; so we are looking at around 5.8 million jobs across the entire industry spectrum. And, by 2020, aviation will contribute 37.5% of UAE GDP,” he said.
The packed conference room then heard from five of the industry’s foremost thought leaders and aerospace exponents including Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, Director General of the UAE Space Agency Badr Al Olama, CEO of STRATA; Bernie Dunn, President Middle East, North Africa and Turkey of Boeing; Josh Stewart, CEO of XJet; and Phil Marques, Head of DXB Approach, DANS.
Commenting on the UAE’s fledgling space programme, Dr Mohammed Al Ahbabi, said: “Our founding father, HH Sheikh Zayed, was inspired by space more than 35 years ago and directed the government to invest in education in this field. Today, the UAE has six satellites, with more to come, and the first space agency in the region, which will send a spacecraft to Mars. One of our objectives is to inspire young people, and provide hope to youth around the region, in order to attract the next generation to study science and technology and be part of both the UAE and global space programmes.”
STRATA CEO, Badr Al Olama and Bernie Dunn, President Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, for event co-sponsor Boeing, together urged the student audience to first “find their passion and push boundaries” in an industry that is driven not only by technical expertise and hard work, but by personal inspiration and innovative thinking.
Al Olama also highlighted the growing role of women at the sharp end of the region’s burgeoning aircraft parts manufacturing sector. “We have over 30 different nationalities at STRATA, 50% of whom are UAE nationals and out of that, 84% are women,” he said.
Captain Mahmoud Almarashdeh, Training Manager at Fujairah Aviation Academy, exhibiting at the show, also reported an increase in interest from female applicants, especially in the engineering discipline. “We are sponsored by Etihad Airways for the training of east coast-based Emiratis in aviation engineering and we have seen up to 75% female students,” he said.
The students, who represented leading educational institutions across the UAE including Emirates Aviation University, Higher Colleges of Technology, American University of Sharjah, Canadian University of Dubai, Repton School, the British University in Dubai, Manipal University, American University Dubai, Rochester Institute of Technology, American University of the Emirates and Herriot-Watt University, also had the opportunity to quiz the speakers on their areas of expertise before visiting the rest of the Dubai Airshow.