The Gulf needs more people to work in aviation

November 2, 2010

More people are needed to work in aviation in the Gulf region.

Speaking at the Doha Aviation Summit, Dr Othman Al Khoury, deputy general manager of the Gulf Centre for Aviation Studies said professionals in the aviation industry are aware of the detailed requirements for the job, but refuse to reduce standards, so as not to limit passengers’ safety and security.

“Even in the economic slowdown, the effect of which is somewhat minimal on most economies in the region, the region’s aviation authorities have not compromised on vital security aspects,” Al Khoury was quoted by Qatari dailyGulf Times as saying.

However, he pointed out that the main challenge for the industry here is the lack of qualified staff.

“The absence of competent professionals is making the job extremely tough for those already employed in the system,” he said.

He emphasised the huge expense incurred by airline companies in training professionals abroad and said awareness campaigns to develop local talent in the region have not achieved the desired results, even though there’s been some interest lately amongst GCC locals.

“The expense of training personnel abroad could be effectively curtailed if proper training facilities are developed locally,” he said.

The number of airport employees in the Middle East is expected to double to over 300,000 by 2020, as a result of planned airport expansion projects.

Some $200 billion (Dh734.54 billion) worth of aircraft orders have been planned in the Mena region while $100 billion have been earmarked for infrastructure and expansion projects currently under way.

What’s more, eight new runways are being built in the region and 2,300 planes are to join the fleets of regional airlines by 2029, in addition to the current 1,100 planes.

With a population of around 39 million, projected to grow to approximately 58 million, the percentage of GCC nationals actively employed in the private sector remains insignificant.

Oman has the highest percentage at 36 per cent, Kuwait has 16 per cent, Qatar five per cent and UAE two per cent.

Dr Ali Ebrahim Al Maliki, Director General of the Qatar Aeronautical College (QAC), said incentives need to provided.

“If excellent salary conditions and handsome retirement benefits are given, talented young people will come forward to take up jobs in the industry,” he said, calling for increased technology training facilities.

“There is a need to create an exceptional talent pool and future leaders and also to encourage the most talented nationals to join the industry,” he said.

Mohammad R M Khunji, Regional Director of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, said that the aviation industry in the Middle East is attempting to attract a professional workforce of an unequalled standard.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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