Abu Dhabi – A New Country Joins IAOPA

March 7, 2012 by Craig Fuller

Gulf News provided extensive coverage of the Expo, including this picture of me talking to a local businessman who is importing light sport aircraft from Italy.

When the invitation came months ago to attend the Abu Dhabi Air Expo as a guest of the Abu Dhabi Airports Company, which organized the event, and recognize the newly formed AOPA group for the Emirates, I accepted. This first-time exhibition has not disappointed a few thousand attendees over the three-day event held at the Al Bateen Executive Airport.

It has been great to experience the enthusiasm of aviators here in Abu Dhabi. The show provides attendees with a look at a full range of aircraft from light sport to a Boeing 737 and everything in between. The reported use of GA aircraft is growing in the region and firms are looking to establish themselves here. Local officials are saying that private aviation in the Middle East is expected to experience a 20 percent growth rate. 

Interesting conversations have been held with several individuals who talk about the need for pilots, and flight instruction seems to be a growing part of the aviation industry in the region. When we asked one very active flight instructor from the region about the use of flight simulators, he said that today they only have one Redbird flight simulator but others with motion have been ordered. 

This was just one of many conversations that remind me of how much the U.S. aviation community is respected around the world.

Presenting provisional IAOPA membership to UAE AOPA representative M. Yousif Al Hammadi.

While in Abu Dhabi, in my capacity as IAOPA president, I officially recognized M. Yousif Al Hammadi as the newest representative to the International Council of AOPAs, bringing the number of member countries to 70. The Council is growing fast, with Namibia joining just last year. I must say, finding people with a passion for general aviation around the world is a very rewarding experience.

Later today, Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Foundation, will make a presentation to the attendees. Bruce and I, along with our colleagues, are grateful to have been invited to be guests at this important gathering. And, we all came away enthusiastic about finding yet another place where the belief in general aviation is very much alive and well.

  • Robert Hochberg

    How did this trip advance our AOPA interests in the US, which is what AOPA is all about. Did our membership dues pay for the “colleagues” to attend? What was the cost to us?

  • http://www.aopa.org Craig Fuller

    Robert – Thanks for asking a good question. First, no membership dues monies were used to pay for this trip that involved four of us. Our hosts, the Abu Dhabi organization putting on the three day show, ask us to attend to speak at seminars and to officially recognize the UAE into the International AOPA. The graciously covered our transportation and lodging. You can read about the visit from a local news report: http://bit.ly/yEoNZQ

    It is also the case that IAOPA organizations (now 70 of them) provide funding to support this international advocacy group. IAOPA supports the general aviation community before ICAO, the international organization that sets flight rules affecting us.

    To be honest, it was an education for me to understand just how far AOPA does reach to make sure that governing bodies, wherever they are located, understand the value of general aviation. In fact, this trip worked out well because I am returning with a stop today and tomorrow in London for a meeting of the European members of the IAOPA.

    Thanks for taking the time to raise a good question.


  • Ron Baklarz


    Hope we will encourage women in Middle East Aviation

  • Ron Baklarz


    Hope we are doing more than encouraging Middle East women in aviation-flying,teaching,female role models.