His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, opened the show during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid and members of the Dubai ruling family toured the show, stopping to see a range of aircraft and visiting a number of stands.
The UAE Vice-President went onboard an Airbus A350, of which Emirates airline is considering an order, and also boarded a Qatar Airways Airbus A380, accompanied by the airline’s chief executive, Akbar Al Baker. He also stopped to have a look at the Dubai South and Russian Helicopters stands, among others.
The five-day show, held every two years, is taking place at Dubai South, formerly Dubai World Central (DWC), where Dubai’s second airport, Al Maktoum International, is located.
The region’s major aviation event, which has attracted 1,100 exhibitors from over 60 countries, is expected to welcome over 65,000 trade visitors. More than 160 aircraft are on display at the trade event.
Sales at this year’s show are expected to focus on defence spending, as a number of countries in the Middle East, such as Yemen and Syria, are mired in conflict.
Gulf countries — including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain — have been fighting in Yemen since March this year in a campaign against Al Houthi rebels to restore the internationally recognised government of President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi.
Paul Oliver, top Middle East defence sales executive of US planemaker Boeing, said on Saturday that since the Gulf nations entered the war in Yemen, demand for drones, or unmanned aerial devices, had increased among Gulf buyers.
He also said that Boeing has been working with the United States government to fast-track delivery of military hardware to Gulf governments since the start of the Yemen campaign.
Boeing has more than 500 aircraft in the region and a backlog of close to 580 aircraft on order from Middle East carriers.
Besides featuring military and commercial aircraft, the show had flying shows, performed by the likes of the UAE’s Al Fursan and Italy’s Frecce Tricolori.
The last show, which was held in 2013, saw the major Gulf airlines — Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways — announce record aircraft orders.
Total sales at the 2013 show reached more than $200 billion (Dh734.6 billion), with a big focus on commercial aircraft orders.
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