Dr Othman M. Al Khoury, deputy general manager of Abu Dhabi Airport Company, stressed the importance of a strong transportation system to boost the economic sector through tourism. Image Credit: Abedl-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi:  The Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) has set up the Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies (GCAS) to help identify, design, develop, deliver and manage airport and aviation solutions in the UAE and across the Middle East.

Through highly experienced staff, the GCAS has been training 5,800 employees, from 40 different nationalities, at the Adac since last year, on professional development, management skills, operational efficiency, and customer service quality and licensing requirements — all fundamental training requirements that will help cater to the need of the 20 million tourists expected to arrive to the capital city by 2030.

The Dh6.8-billion terminal at the Abu Dhabi airport, known as the Midfield Terminal Complex (MTC), due to open by 2013, alongside upcoming projects expected to help tourism in the country, has encouraged the establishment of the GCAS — an Adac training arm that will help boost tourism through courses developed to cover different aspects of the airport and related industries.

Oil dependence

Training will cover airport operations, air transport management and economics, aviation safety and security, customer service, auditing techniques, security and safety awareness, basic management skills and economics and finance.

"The estimated amount spent on projects that will help encourage tourism in Abu Dhabi has reached $500 billion [Dh1.837 trillion], and the dependence on oil and gas will drop from two-thirds to one-third by 2030. Our role is to help boost the economic sector through tourism, which cannot happen without a strong transportation system in place, and in our case, that means strong airport and aviation development," said Dr Othman M. Al Khoury, Deputy General Manager at the ADAC.

Meanwhile, the massive investment in tourism and aviation infrastructure is resulting in increased traffic through Abu Dhabi International Airport.

Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) shows guest numbers across the capital's 116 licensed hotels and hotel apartments rose to 137,714 in July — a 24 per cent increase on the same period last year.

Mubarak Al Muhairi, Director General of ADTA, said: "Growth in what is traditionally a slow summer month for Abu Dhabi is immensely encouraging. Our guest performance this year has now gone over the million mark leaving us well placed to meet, if not exceed, our 2010 target of 1.65 million. We are confident of what lies ahead in the coming months for Abu Dhabi [especially] the October launch of Ferrari World, which we believe will have strong regional and international appeal."

Wide variety

GCAS was set up at the Abu Dhabi Airport by last year 2008 as a result of a Memorandum of Understanding between the UAE's Ministry of Economy and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). Due to the growing demand across the region, the centre relocated to a bigger designated building at Al Bateen Airport, that now has 11 classrooms that can take up to 250 students.

The centre — in partnership with GCAA, JAA Training Organisation, Airport Council International, the Chicago Airport System, and the ICAO — has helped provide a wide variety of courses that the GCAS plan to provide airlines, tourism companies, government authorities and environmental entities, such as Masdar and Irena.

"Our main focus is to upscale knowledge of employees working in the airport and aviation business. Our first training in the facility, for instance, was for the police officers working at the Abu Dhabi Airport. Our focus is to improve the way airports treat their passengers," clarified Dr Al Khoury.

According to Tarek Khoury, Training Manager at the GCAS, 17 per cent of candidates at the centre, arrived from various parts of Europe and Asia.

"The fact that our courses and events are delivered by internationally recognised institutions, has already attracted students from various areas across the world."