Middle East is a land of opportunity for aviation design

Although storm clouds in the guise of rising oil prices have recently engulfed the airline industry – headlines from Ryanair cutbacks to the demise of business airline Silverjet indicate turbulence – the Middle East is showing a very different picture.

This week’s trade exhibition Aircraft Interiors Middle East in Dubai will feature more than 100 international exhibitors, comprising aviation companies, design buyers, aircraft interiors specialists and interior design consultancies working on airports and airlines around the region, among which are Abu Dhabi Airports Company and UK interiors consultancy Design Q.

The AIME exhibition reflects demand in the region for design, says Design Q interior designer Ceri Rocca. Around 70 per cent of the designs that Design Q is currently creating are for Middle Eastern projects. She points out that the global banking crisis is not impacting on the super-rich, who still require designers to create bespoke ‘play-things’ for their leisure time.

Rocca points to the growing number of high-end luxury jet aircraft interior projects occupying the consultancy’s time. Private planes with dining rooms and bedrooms that look like miniature hotels on wings, with interiors budgets and price tags stretching into many millions of pounds, are emerging trends, says Rocca.

The blossoming business-jet taxi service market, occupied by brands such as Blink, is also providing a steady stream of work for designers, and will be another point of focus at the show.

Other UK groups attracted by the activity in the Middle East and exhibiting at the event include Airbase Group, Flight, Dyers International FZCO, Premium Aircraft Interiors Group and Thompson Solutions.

The two-day show will feature workshops examining trends in cabin interiors, VIP interiors, in-flight entertainment and catering, as well as a series of lectures tackling topics across design, passenger safety, technology and Green issues. Boeing regional director of passenger satisfaction and revenue Kent Craver will address the audience on the theme A Dream Job for Designers, while Association of Professional Interior Designers president Kenneth Laidler will present his insight on the breadth of opportunities for designers.

Aircraft Interiors Middle East will take place from 16-17 June at Dubai’s Trade Centre.

Middle east aviation market

• The number of seats offered by Arab airlines from and to the Arab world has increased by 9%
• Passenger traffic in the Middle East rose 15% during the first 11 months of 2006, the highest among the six geographic regions and nearly triple the global average of 6%, according to the latest traffic data issued by International Air Transport Association
• Boeing sold a record $2.5bn-worth (£1.25bn) of business and VIP jet aircraft in 2006, 70% to Middle East buyers
• Jazeera Airways, the first private airline in the Middle East, has taken delivery of a new Airbus A320 aircraft, powered with new ultra-low-emission-producing CFM 56 B engines. This is the fifth out of a total of ten aircraft to be delivered to the airline over the next three years

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