Southern Winds
Business Traveller Middle East|January 2019
Southern Winds

Last month’s MEBAA exhibition saw major widebody news, 24 new exhibitors and efforts to tackle cyber crime – against the backdrop of the rapidly changing Dubai South district

Dominic Ellis

Travelling out to the Middle East Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) exhibition is one of those Dubai-in-microcosm journeys. You pass innumerable cranes at Expo 2020, busy building on-site and accompanying infrastructure, and then turn into one long treelined road (I remember when they were saplings) before you come to a roundabout where, on one one side is the new 145-room Aloft Dubai South and on the other, the entrance to Emaar South.

This is very much new Dubai, though one I suspect many residents don’t see, never mind visitors. The area remains a work in progress but it’s definitely gathering momentum and its profile will rise when more passengers pass through Al Maktoum International Airport in April, with DXB undergoing runway repairs, and in the next 12-to-18 months as the Expo publicity machine cranks up. The Aloft is a significant opening, a sign of things to come.

Later in the day I talk to Tahnoon Saif, CEO Aviation District, next to a vast plan which shows in detail the immediate district comprising general aviation, aerospace maintainence, education facilities and VIP Terminal, which opened late 2016. Next to it will be the Aviation One commercial complex.

The Flight Academy, with its own runway, has plans to expand and ExecuJet is building a multi-million dollar FBO and maintenance area.

For all its scale, this is just one part of Dubai South (formerly ‘Dubai World Central’). The whole area covers 145sq km and includes an 18-hole golf course – and it’s starting to diversify, as evidenced by the recent announcement for an ‘aquaculture’ fish farm.

“Around two-thirds of buildings relate to the aviation industry, either directly, or law and financial institutions, and the remaining part will leverage on VIPs passing through – we are looking at having high-end brand boutiques next year,” said the CEO.

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January 2019