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His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum: With heavily responsibilities weighing down on His shoulders,

Exclusive interview

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Chairman and Chief Executive Emirates Airline & Group, Chairman of Emirates NBD Bank, successfully managed to fulfill all His duties,

His Highness reveals all:

1-Your Highness, Dubai decided to make a last minute entry to lodge their bid with BIE (Bureau of International Expositions) for Expo 2020 after Brazil, Russia, Thailand, and Turkey. what triggered that vision?

Following a feasibility study, in November 2011, the United Arab Emirates launched the country’s campaign to host the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.

The official bid was submitted to the Bureau International des Exhibitions (BIE) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai.

We believe that Dubai has something different to offer and is the ideal candidate city to host this international event that takes place once every five years. If successful, the 2020 World Expo in Dubai, under the theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, will serve as a global hub for ideas and a springboard for creativity.

Since 1851, World Expos have provided significant opportunities to engage the world community in a shared project. This is also our goal here in Dubai where we unite peoples and cultures from across the globe every day

A World Expo in Dubai in 2020 would be the first to be held in the MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) region and would also coincide with the UAE’s Golden Jubilee. And, for the first time in the history of World Expo, due to the fact that one third of the world’s population is located within a direct 4 hour flight, as much as 70% of the expected 25 million visitors would be international.

2-The proposed theme “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”,  whats the leading story behind the inspiration?

Connecting people lies at the heart of our vision as a cosmopolitan nation – it is through creating connections that we foster greater cooperation and understanding between peoples and cultures.

As the global community faces ever more complex, and increasingly interconnected challenges, the connections between people, societies and ideas have never been more important.

Under the theme Connecting Minds, Creating the Future, Dubai is building its bid on three key sub-themes representing the forces that inspire global development: sustainability (lasting sources of energy and water), mobility (smart systems of logistics and transportation), and opportunity (new paths to economic development).

Dubai Expo 2020 will be a platform for connectivity to help pioneer new partnerships for growth and sustainability for the future.

We believe in the convening power of World Expo and by connecting minds, we celebrate our common aspirations and work together to create a brighter future. That is our vision for the 2020 World Expo in Dubai.

3-Your Highness, What are your accomplishments so far in the Airlines ?

Since our establishment in 1985 with just two aircraft, Emirates has grown to be one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, operating a fleet of nearly 200 wide-body aircraft including the largest fleet of Airbus A380s’ and Boeing 777s.  Emirates has won more than 500 international awards for service excellence including Best Airline Inflight Entertainment at the Skytrax World Airline Awards for the eighth consecutive year and the Gold Airline of the Year at the Air Transport News Awards in 2012.

In 2012 alone, Emirates has continued on it strong growth trajectory adding 15 new destinations to the network since January 2012.  The list of new points began with Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires and continued with Dublin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle, Lusaka, Harare, Ho Chi Minh City, Barcelona, Lisbon, Erbil, Washington DC and Adelaide. To conclude the year, services to Lyon and Phuket began in December 2012. In early 2013, we have plans to launch routes in both Warsaw and Algiers, with more route announcements to come.

In May 2012, Emirates announced its 24th consecutive year of profit and companywide growth amidst continued economic pressure and record high fuel prices. By the end of the financial year, Emirates had carried 34 million passengers.

4-What are the main factors contributing to attract investors to the UAE? 

There are many reasons why Dubai and the UAE are excellent places to invest. The country is one of the safest in the world with a very low crime-rate and offers investors a liberal economy, no income tax or corporate tax, no trade barriers, quotas or foreign exchange controls, 100% repatriation of capital and profits.  The government of Dubai offers strong investor incentives as well.

Strategically located between the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa, Dubai is geographically positioned within eight hours of two-thirds of the world’s population. and attracts around 10 million investors and tourists on an annual basis.

Dubai represents an international business hub with a wide range of opportunities for different activities and operations including trade, industry, regional offices and re-export offices.

The advanced infrastructure of the civil aviation industry in the UAE is also a key driver for investment.  The goal of Dubai to become the largest international air hub in the world by 2018 is well on track.  In 2011, nearly 51 million passengers travelled through Dubai Airport.

 

5-What is the UAE global ranking in terms of Airlines ? Does it compete with other countries from around the world? 

UAE’s location as a centre between East and West, coupled with its advanced infrastructure, makes it the ideal hub to airline industry. Competition is healthy, we do compete with other aviation centres which keep us alerted and push us to provide the best possible service.

The airline industry still faces many challenges – the price of fuel will continue to be a major issue with airlines needing to become more efficient and eliminate unnecessary costs.

Emirates ranks as world’s largest airline by scheduled international passenger kilometres flown and the fourth largest airline by available seat kilometres (ASKs)

In addition, Dubai International Airport is now the world’s fourth busiest airport for international passenger traffic.

 

6-Your Highness, how can you describe the development of economic relations between UAE and the rest of the world and what are the achieved results and their most prominent manifestations? 

As with any nation a large portion of economic development is based on trade and the UAE has strong trade relations with the rest of the world. The UAE became a contracting party to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in 1994, and a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in April of 1996. The engagement with international organisations stems from the UAE’s commitment to international trade and requirements under the multilateral trade policy regime. Today, the UAE has regulations in place that aim to strengthen the country’s position as an open economy, one that welcomes international trade and competition.

Trade, tourism and transport are the major contributors to the economic growth of Dubai and the nation.  Presently, the UAE has air services agreements with over 150 countries, of which 118 are open skies or fully liberal arrangements.  As we continue to build our advanced civil aviation infrastructure our open skies policy has contributed to boosting the economic status of the UAE and Dubai as a strategic business hub.

7-What is the role of the banks sector in Economic development?

Banks play a key role and have been at the forefront of Dubai’s development and one of the main pillars of the government and private sectors growth.  The UAE’s compliance with world banking and financial standards and rules, regulations and governance adoption, helped our banking sector face economic challenges and provided a shield against global recessions. The 2008 economic crisis proved the strength of our banking sector.  The speed of Dubai’s financial recovery would not have happened if we did not have a healthy banking sector

8-What is the happiest moment of your career?

I have had many successes and proud moments in my career – it is difficult to name just one.  As an eternal optimist, I believe that there will be even more moments of happiness and pride to come in the future.

 

We extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to your Highness for this interview

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