LEVERAGING DISTINCTIVE CAPABILITIES

Dubai 2020 | MOBILITY | INTERVIEW

In a short span of time, MBR Aerospace Hub has enabled the aviation and aerospace industries' development.

Tahnoon Saif
BIOGRAPHY

Tahnoon Saif is the CEO of MBR Aerospace Hub. He oversees the development and execution of the aviation district in Dubai South, including development of the business strategy and master plan for the multi-phased aerospace infrastructure development. He has more than 24 years of experience in the fields of aviation and strategy development. Prior to his existing role, he was vice-president for strategy at Dubai South. Said is a Stanford University-certified aviation management professional (AvMP) and holds a certification in strategic airport management from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He earned his MBA from Johns Hopkins University.

Could you provide an overview of MBR Aerospace Hub?
MBR Aerospace Hub is a 7-sqkm business aviation and aerospace hub in Dubai South that offers private jet maintenance, aviation education, and training services. It also houses a VIP terminal, which went operational in 2016. Manned by our highly skilled professionals and technicians, MBR Aerospace Hub was able to capture over 70% of Dubai's private jet segment. In our business aviation segment, we have five fixed-base operators (FBOs) and two hangars for private jets. Falcon has already completed and commissioned its hangar. We are working with other players as well to build a maintenance center for commercial aircrafts. Apart from these facilities, we also house maintenance shops, the Lufthansa Technik for components, and GE's On Wing Support. At MBR Aerospace Hub, we bring together multinationals and SMEs to create a vibrant regional and global aerospace sector. We create value and synergy by leveraging our wide networks and the close proximity to Al Maktoum Airport, an international hub, and the Emirates Sky Cargo, which is connected to Dubai International Airport. In addition to our airport access, we are also linked to freighters and cargo via the Jebel Ali Port coupled with modern road networks. Moreover, we are less than an hour's drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport. MBR Aerospace Hub is a strategic development when it comes to the aerospace industry. With 35% of the development activities taking place in full swing, the hub is expected to be fully completed by 2030.

What is your role in building capacity and developing Dubai's aviation and aerospace sector?
In a short span of time, MBR Aerospace Hub has enabled the industry's development. We provide the infrastructure and plug-and-play solutions to minimize the capital expenditure requirements of our partners. We are also proud of our state-of-the-art education premises in which we plan to house simulation centers, universities, and vocational training institutes to train pilots, cabin crew, professionals, and technicians. In November 2019, we inaugurated dynamic and advanced training facility for cabin crew. Through this, we aim to help address the labor shortage in the aerospace and aviation industries.

What role does MBR Aerospace Hub play in Dubai South's development, and how is it helping to build synergies there?
Dubai South has different and connected business districts, and their activities mainly revolving around the airport. Our focus at MBR Aerospace Hub is on private jets, separate from commercial airlines, as well as specialized landside and airspace supply chain to support operators on the airside.

How is MBR Aerospace Hub looking to leverage its new brand and increased visibility to make Dubai the aerospace capital of the world?
The rebranding was done to fulfill the vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai the aviation capital of the world. To date, AED2.5 billion has been invested in the MBR Aerospace Hub, and we aim to hit the AED17-billion mark. This will position MBR Aerospace Hub as the leading aerospace hub in the region and the world.

What are your strategic priorities going forward into 2020?
Until 2021, our focus will remain on the business aviation segment, which is quite mature now. Dubai's business aviation segment is known globally and we want to build on this to position the Emirate's maintenance capabilities on the international stage. We are also working on reinforcing the light manufacturing sector, both building local capabilities and attracting global players. We are expecting a positive year for the business aviation and aerospace industries, fueled by activities brought forth by Expo 2020.