REACHING FOR THE STARS

Dubai 2020 | MOBILITY | INTERVIEW

Above all, Dubai South is a futuristic community that will improve Dubai's status among the best and most sustainable places in the world to visit, work, and live.

Khalifa Al Zaffin
BIOGRAPHY

Khalifa Al Zaffin is the Executive Chairman of DACC, a government entity formulated to cement the Emirate's leading position as a logistics and aviation hub. He plays a key role in formulating economic, investment, fiscal policies and strategies. Prior to his two decades of experience in aviation, he was a senior project engineer at Dubai Aluminum Company Ltd. (DUBAL). He currently serves as board member of the Executive Council for Infrastructure Affairs, Dubai World Trade Center, Cleveland Bridge, and Deyaar. He is also a member of the Expo 2020's Higher Committee. Al Zaffin is a graduate of Arizona State University and holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering.

How is DACC building aviation expertise and driving the sector to new heights?
Our strategy stems from the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum to make Dubai the aviation capital of the world. With this in mind, we are building an aviation ecosystem that includes airports, aviation-related businesses, and learning institutions. When it comes to aviation-related businesses, there are many types of services that support general aviation such as maintenance, repair, and overhaul services (MROs). Cargo and catering services are included in this segment, and Emirates Skycargo and Emirates Catering are two companies that have now moved to Dubai South. When DACC first opened for business, it aimed at attracting the world's major aviation companies, and the majority have set up their business operations here. However, we believe SMEs play an essential role in providing a holistic range of services for the aerospace industry. All these businesses require talent; therefore, we have partnered with the University of South Wales, which has set up a campus here to provide training dedicated only to aviation. In addition, Dubai South hosts the Dubai Air Show, which continues to witness growth. When it kicked off, it become the largest air show in size with the highest number of exhibitors and visitors so far, and we are building on that success.

How is DACC pioneering innovation in the aviation sector?
Since the industry is involved in a chain of processes, we are digitally connecting the entire cycle. Going digital means access to facts and data that are key to good decision making for any business. Another aspect is tapping innovation and technology to advance Dubai's aviation ecosystem, and we have been working with 3D companies to explore the possibilities of developing spare parts for airplanes.

How does sustainability factor into this holistic ecosystem?
We are taking measures to generate alternative sources of energy. However, energy is only one aspect of our sustainability efforts. For example, Dubai South is the first community in the Emirate to bring an electric bus model made in Australia. This is part of a larger plan to connect the whole of Dubai South through a form of light rail or electric bus system. From a food security perspective, we are implementing the latest innovation in modern farming to build one of the largest vertical farms and establish a JV for land-based fish farming. These are just some of the plans and initiatives in the pipeline.

What does Dubai South mean for the Emirate, and what is the vision for leveraging the legacy of Expo 2020?
It is of great pride that Expo 2020 is taking place in Dubai South. Once Expo 2020 officially opens to the world, our exhibit terminal can provide a platform to transport people, not to mention the key role of Al Maktoum International Airport for travelers and visitors coming for the Expo. We are confident that there will be a spillover of visits to Dubai South for businesses and visitors to witness firsthand what we do here. In terms of aviation, we are building extensively to promote Dubai as a global capital for aviation as we are in the process of building the largest airport in the world. In addition to that is the Mohammed Bin Rashid Aerospace Hub, which provides the platform for many other aspects of aviation. We are proactively gaining ground as a global e-commerce hub, having brought Amazon to Dubai South. We are confident that all the activities that will transpire during Expo 2020 will bring the biggest benefits to Dubai South, a futuristic community that will improve Dubai's status among the best and most sustainable places in the world to visit, work, and live in.