In Cooling World Economy, Middle East Stays Hot for Jet Builders

To an industry thirsting for relief from the current world financial crisis, the Middle East is a bubbling oasis of sales activity. At the recent Middle East Business Aviation (MEBA) show in Dubai, Wall Street's woes seemed foreign, indeed. Business jet manufacturers were finding cash buyers for their wares with no sign of a credit crunch. Leading the spending spree was Al Jaber Aviation, with orders for 21 business aircraft ranging in size from Embraer Legacys to Airbus bizliners. The total value of Al Jaber's business jet orders is pegged at $1.2 billion. Kuwait-based ASAIG Aviation ordered a pair of Legacy 500s for a total of $36.8 million, while Abu Dhabi-based Falcon Aviation Services ordered a pair of Legacy 500s and will become Embraer's local authorized service center. Cessna has high aspirations for its developmental Columbus business jet, the largest Citation yet. From an order book numbering 71 aircraft, seven are destined for the Mideast region. And Dassault Falcon expects to double its presence in the region over the next four years, from a current fleet of 41 to more than 80 Falcons.