From terrorist threats to the spat with Qatar and civil war in Yemen and Syria, there may be problems aplenty across the Arab world. However, Ali Alnaqbi believes he is succeeding in his mission to bring the region closer together when it comes to business aviation.
The founder and executive chairman of the Middle East Business Aviation Association has spent the past decade trying to persuade governments across the Gulf, the Levant and North Africa to make their regulatory regimes more aviation-friendly and harmonise the plethora of rules that govern the industry.
Aside from running the successful biennial MEBAA show in Dubai, Alnaqbi’s organisation has been hosting conferences in various Arab countries, bringing together operators, regulators and other government officials to discuss the challenges facing the sector. Next year, MEBAA will hold five, including for the first time in Bahrain, Egypt and Tunisia, as well as in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Unlike Europe and the USA, the two biggest business aviation markets, the Middle East and North Africa is a patchwork of regulatory regimes with each nation operating its own rules. While some – like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Jordan – make it relatively easy for operators, others barely recognise the separate requirements of business aviation.
“Every market has its own issues," Alnaqbi says. "We have been trying to bring people together to explain how business aviation can be a positive driver for their economies. We find that once we go to these countries and talk to the governments, they begin to understand our needs and we can start addressing the issues.”
Alnaqbi is at the convention this week to promote the eighth MEBAA show, which takes place at Dubai’s Al Maktoum airport on 10-12 December 2018. He says the event continues to grow “at a steady 10-15%” in terms of exhibitors.