Dr Lee London, Senior Director of International Coorperation, Airbus and Dr Bruno Kahne, Senior Consultant, Air Business Academy, Airbus with students in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The aerospace sector is expected to contribute up to 2 per cent of the UAE's gross domestic product (GDP) as part of the Abu Dhabi 2030 economic vision, Humaid Abdullah Al Shemmari, Executive Director of Business Development in the Aerospace Unit at Mubadala, told Gulf News yesterday.

As part of the UAE's efforts to establish a global aerospace hub in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala Aerospace in collaboration with the Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec) launched the first aerospace internship programme for eight top Emirati engineering students from universities in the UAE.

The students are due to receive 24 weeks of training in Toulouse, France from February 27 to July 31 at Airbus, whose Middle East subsidiary is headquartered in the Dubai Airport Free Zone.

According to statistics for last year, Airbus Middle East sold 54 new aircraft to four airlines, including 32 A380s to Emirates, A320s to Yemenia, and two A320s to Qatar Airways which represents approximately 9.4 per cent of the 574 aircraft sold worldwide to 43 commercial customers.

First batch

The company delivered 80 new aircraft to Mena customers, of which an exceptional 29 new aircraft joined the Saudi Arabian fleet in 2010. It delivered over 500 worldwide.

Speaking about the internship initiative, Al Shemmari said, "We have spent Dh2 million on the first batch of students travelling to France, since the UAE plans to become number three in maintenance repair and overhaul [MRO] worldwide, and among the top five aerostructure manufacturers internationally. We will also have up to 10,000 job opportunities within the aerospace sector across the UAE, which requires a lot of human investment from now."

Mubadala has also partnered with aerospace companies to invest more than Dh4.8 billion on a composite aerostructure manufacturing facility in Al Ain, where more than 500 jobs will be generated until 2014.

"Since our partnership with Airbus in 2008, they have put a billion dollars worth of work packages for the aerospace industry in the UAE for the next ten years. We are also going to produce parts for Airbus that are also worth $10 billion [Dh36.7 billion]," added the Aerospace expert.

With reported revenues of €28.5 billion (Dh141.55 billion) in 2010, Airbus has been attracting 2,000 internship students from across the world each year since its inception 30 years ago. The Emirati students were a first for the company.

Helpful and practical

Salem Al Sayani, executive director of support services at the Adec, described the upcoming experience for students as helpful and practical. "Their training coincides with Abu Dhabi's Economy 2030 vision in building a knowledge-based economy through provision of highly qualified staff in the aerospace industry. It will help our students acquire world class skills and practical experience that will introduce them to career opportunities available at the global aerospace job market."

Priority areas

According to Muna Al Mansouri, Scholarship Manager at Adec, aerospace along with semi-conductors, nuclear energy and urban planning are areas of priority for the UAE.

"The Adec has so far offered 1,103 scholarships to students whose GPA [grade point average] is above 3 in various sectors. Those students however have to go through a selection process, which included in this specific case an interview with representatives from Mubadala Aerospace, Airbus Company and Adec," she said.