Themed 'Time to Transform: Addressing sustainability challenges and opportunities for the regional aviation sector', the summit was attended by more than 200 industry participants from 15 Arab countries.
The strong growth potential of the Arab aviation and tourism sectors, despite various challenges, has been highlighted by a number of leading industry authorities. According to IATA, the Middle East's aviation market is forecast to grow five percent annually until 2036. Predictions demonstrate that the sector will witness an extra 322 million passengers a year on routes to, from and within the region and the total market size will expand to 517 million passengers over this period. The region gained a five percent share of the global aviation market last year, flying 206.1 million passengers - an increase of 9.1 percent over 2015.
Welcoming the delegates to the summit, Adel Al Ali, Arab Aviation Summit Chairperson and Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, said,"We gather every year to debate the ever changing state of the aviation industry and its complexities. Arab aviation is highly affected by the evolving geo-political situation, the global economy, technological developments and others. Our region is witnessing constant development and the theme for this year’s edition, ‘Time to Transform’, reflects this fact. Today, we address the sustainability of our industry and the challenges and opportunities it faces in the short and long term."
Samir Al Darabi, Director of United Nations Information Centre, UNIC, for Gulf States gave the keynote address on ‘Arab travel and tourism between world peace, culture and the global economy.’ He said, "This year, we aim to highlight the contributions of aviation and tourism and its economic impact on the Arab world. We will also address key challenges facing the regional industry including geopolitical changes, air management and open sky policies and fluctuating oil prices. Data from WTO proves that aviation and tourism industries have continued to create job opportunities globally. This year is the 7th continuous year of the global growth of aviation and tourism industries."
"The UN emphasises sustainability in all operations and under our ‘Change for Good’ initiative, we have contributed to international peace and well-being. More than 70,000 tonnes of relief supplies and 95 percent of emergency medical supplies are transported by air to the needy every year," he added.