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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: Thought leaders and stakeholders of the global aviation industry are set to converge on Riyadh for the second Saudi Airport Exhibition to discuss emerging trends and pressing issues facing the sector.
The event, to be held on Dec. 19-20 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, will host two co-located conferences, with hopes to add depth and diversity to the discourse on the global aviation industry.
With over 6,000 aviation professionals, 250 global exhibitors, 50 participating companies, 200 regional buyers, and 2,000 pre-scheduled meetings the co-hosted Global Aviation Issues Conference and Women in Aviation General Assembly will bring together leaders from the sector, creating a space for dialogue on the challenges and collaborative opportunities facing the industry.
Organized by Niche Ideas with Matarat Holding, an arm of the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the event has grown by over 75 percent from its inaugural edition last year and will once again bring global aviation, innovation, and expertise to the Middle East.
Exhibitors from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and the UAE as well as the UK, Italy, Germany, and the US are among the world’s top airport suppliers showcasing their latest innovations at the event.
Participating bodies will be displaying their products and services in the Kingdom, whose economy has for the first time crossed the $1 trillion mark.
Event Director Daksha Patel said: “The Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia in particular are definitely the most dynamic airport development market in the world today. New initiatives and plans are being announced in the region every few weeks and we are seeing an unbelievable pace of aviation transformation, unlike almost anything seen in the past.”
“Global Aviation Issues Conference” is a two-day conference that will see over 500 participants, including Saudi transport and aviation leaders and global experts and suppliers, to discuss facilitating collaborative efforts to deliver the Kingdom’s aviation strategy and wider industry growth, sustainability, and profitability globally.
As part of its Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is undergoing its largest-ever aviation expansion program, which aims to triple the country’s airports capacity by 2030 and see it deliver the fastest passenger traffic growth in the Middle East between 2020-2040.
The Saudi air transport sector has contributed approximately $20.2 billion to its gross domestic product, with an additional $16.2 billion spent by foreign tourists in 2018, according to a press release.
Projections indicate a growth of 126 percent over the next 20 years, generating around $82.3 billion and almost 1.2 million jobs by 2037.
As the capital-intensive airport infrastructure development sector picks up pace globally, Saudi Arabia — the largest economy in the Middle East — is working to develop sustainable and modern airport facilities.
Air transport is integral to achieving Vision 2030, the release added, as Saudi Arabia aims to connect with over 250 destinations and secure a spot among the top five global air passenger transit hubs.
Jihad Boueri, vice president of airports and communication at SITA, a leading specialist in air transport communications and information technology and a participant in the event, said: “Saudi Arabia is undoubtedly emerging as one of the most promising aviation markets in the Middle East. The Kingdom’s commitment to transforming its aviation infrastructure, expanding airports, and enhancing passenger experiences makes it a key player in the region.”
He added: “The aviation sector’s rapid growth, ambitious Vision 2030 objectives, and increasing air travel demand indicate Saudi Arabia’s ascent as a leading aviation market.”
Through a series of panel discussions, the event will address topics such as the current state and future of aviation, regional and global connectivity, airline industry trends and challenges as well as emerging technologies in aviation.
Women in aviation
The future prospects and the changing scenario will be discussed at the first-ever “Women in Aviation General Assembly” on the sidelines of the second Saudi Airport Exhibition.
The co-located conference highlights women’s role in advancing Saudi Arabia’s aviation goals and hopes to play a part in creating new employment opportunities for women across the Middle East.
It will bring together over 500 participants, upward of 100 aviation companies, 50 airports and airlines, and 25 speakers to discuss the role women can play in the Kingdom’s aviation expansion and how to create new job opportunities for women across the Middle East.
Featuring a lineup of global speakers, including leading aviation experts, the conference will discuss greater diversity and opportunities for women in the regional aviation industry and highlight Saudi efforts to create a diverse local workforce that will lead its future aviation growth.
As Saudi Arabia accelerates civil aviation growth and development, the Kingdom has continued breaking long-held barriers, with women's empowerment remaining a key focus of all these efforts.
A flying academy in Dammam has opened its doors to Saudi women for the very first time and Saudi women pilots have obtained licenses to work as captains with Saudia, the national carrier that already had over 500 Saudi women on its payroll.
The shift in aviation policy now allows hiring women as cabin crew and enrollment in flight schools has surged as Saudi women actively seek to become co-pilots.
Mervat Sultan, one of the first Arab women to obtain a flight dispatcher’s license and a co-founder and president of the Middle East chapter of Women in Aviation International, said: “We will be celebrating the 10th anniversary of our Middle East chapter at the event, encouraging women to seek wider opportunities as the Saudi aviation industry goes through an enormous period of expansion and growth. Women have been underrepresented in aviation globally and Saudi Arabia is creating a great example by putting women at the center of their aviation transformation while creating thousands of new job opportunities for all its citizens and the wider global aviation community.”
Key themes of the event will include women's empowerment under Vision 2030, initiatives by the Kingdom, an inclusive future for aviation as well as women in leadership, and establishing a pathway for women to participate in technical operations.
Among the event’s key speakers are Prince Fahad bin Mishal Al-Saud, chairman of the Aviation Association of the Gulf Cooperation Council states, and Saudi Aviation Association, and Mervat Sultan.
Airport Excellence Awards
Hosted alongside the Saudi Airport Exhibition, the event’s release noted that it will be holding an awards ceremony that aims to recognize global suppliers who have provided notable innovations, technologies, and ideas that have enhanced the airport passenger experience and helped global airports optimize operations, maximize revenue and be more sustainable.
Categories for the awards include infrastructure expansion, sustainability and environment, ground support solutions, innovation, and technology as well as passenger experience.
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