Despite concerns that geopolitical concerns, including the rising spectre of protectionism, could have an adverse effect on global air travel, the Dubai Airshow opened on Sunday with a rush of deals worth almost Dh70 billion.

Even giving the rise of regional tensions, the Dubai Airshow still drew in thousands of companies from around the globe. Emirates, as expected for such a global event being held in its own backyard, led the purchasing with a $15 billion (Dh55 billion) order of 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliners, with many expecting more purchases to be announced.The Dubai Airshow showed it isn’t just about aeroplanes either. His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday launched the ‘Future Aviation Lounge,’ a first digital smart network backed by artificial intelligence that will promote Dubai’s aviation sector, which is set to contribute 45 per cent of Dubai’s GDP by 2030. The introduction of an AI-backed smart network also sends the message that Dubai is aligned with goals of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the Global Future Councils, which wrapped up discussions in Dubai on Sunday. AI and other factors surrounding the Fourth Industrial Revolution were the main focus.

Yesterday, Shaikh Mohammad also opened the Emirates Flight Training Academy, a purpose-built facility near Al Maktoum Airport built to train the next generation of 600 pilots. All of the growth and expansion in the region’s aviation sector is due largely to the air show’s growing roll. Establishing the airshow as a global event is an achievement that Dubai has every right to be proud of.