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Saturday 19 Aug 2017 | 01:03 | SYDNEY
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Abu Dhabi: Leaving on a jet plane

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17 July 2008 10:54

For an insight into the massive oil wealth flowing into the coffers of the Gulf states and the ability this gives them to diversify their economies, the 46th Farnborough Airshow is a good start. This week both the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi have announced eye-watering aircraft deals. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad airlines announced its purchase of 55 Airbus aircraft (including 10 A380s) and 45 Boeings, along with options and purchase rights for another 55 Airbus and 50 Boeing aircraft. Total cost: $43 billion. Also eliciting interest at the airshow was news from the neigbouring emirate of Dubai that one of its companies, Dubai Aerospace Enterprises, had signed a deal for 100 Airbuses for $12.6 billion.

While the deals themselves are notable for their sheer size, they are also a further indication of the way the UAE in general, and Abu Dhabi in particular, sees itself developing. Etihad’s purchase is part of the emirate’s plan to be a cultural tourism destination and transport hub, evidenced by its $7 billion airport expansion program. Abu Dhabi also has plans to position itself as a regional high-tech manufacturing centre, which was helped by the announcement that Abu Dhabi would also become a source of parts for Airbus aircraft. The Farnborough airshow example is just one element of an ambitious development plan for Abu Dhabi, a Gulf state with a vision for where it wants to be and bucketloads of money to get there.

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