ABU DHABI // Emiratis must be trained and encouraged to work in the country's aerospace sector for it to grow, the head of Mubadala Aerospace says.
Homaid Al Shemmari told an audience at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, that the UAE's aerospace industry was already making its mark globally after only seven years.
"Sixty per cent of the world's population can be reached within six hours by plane from Abu Dhabi," Mr Al Shemmari said on Monday night. "The world revolves around us."
Abu Dhabi proved from scratch it could enter a multibillion-dollar market, he said. But to fulfil the vision of being one of the few countries making certain parts of planes, a change in culture was needed.
"Engineers we do have but not specialists that can work with their hand in factories," Mr Al Shemmari said. "By 2015 we want to have 600 employees, 50 per cent of which are locals."
Emiratis had to be "capable of taking matters into their own hands".
"We need to make them understand when building - these are people's lives they are dealing with," Mr Al Shemmari said. "Our aim by 2015 is to have 60 able engineers. Right now we have 13."
By 2030 there would be thousands of jobs available, he said.
He said the Strata factory was built in Al Ain to be near the city's high number of female graduates.
"They have good certificates but no work opportunities," he said. "Because of families, it is a big challenge for women."
He said that by 2030, aerospace should contribute 1 to 3 per cent of Abu Dhabi's economy and be a major supplier for Airbus and Boeing.