ABU DHABI, 9th March 2016 (WAM) — Aviation and space leaders from Saudi Arabia and India have sent out strong signals that they are ready to partner on foreign direct investment (FDI) projects within their own markets and say that time is right to collaborate as their industries are on an upswing.

Leaders of Saudi Arabia’s and India’s expanding aerospace sectors laid out the investment business case at the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi, the Saudi Gazette reported today.

Abdulrahman Altayeb, Advisor to the Director General on Privatisation and VP Fleet Management and Agreements, Saudi Arabian Airlines, said that the Saudi aviation landscape, which is currently undergoing increased liberalisation, privatisation and expansion, will see its fleet and passenger numbers double within a few years.

Predicting the country’s aviation landscape over the next 15 years, Abdulmohsen O, Aynousah, Director Technical Sales & Marketing, Saudi Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) that within the space of one and a half decades, the Kingdom would be self-sufficient in assembly and maintenance within the components sector.

“For those people who have cash in their pockets, this is the time to move into the Kingdom,” he was quoted by the English-language newspaper as saying.

Altayeb, meanwhile, believes that the sector will contribute between 10-15% of the country’s non-oil GDP within the 15 years – up from its current level of 2%. “The aviation sector is being given a lot of importance,” he said.

Last month Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Taqnia Aeronautic to open an assembly plant for An-132 transport aircraft in the Kingdom while the company also signed an agreement with Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin Company to jointly explore helicopter production opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

S.P Shukla of India’s Mahindra Aerospace said that his country, currently the world’s largest importer of defense equipment, will become the third largest aerospace market by 2020.

Shukla identified key investment areas as design, component manufacturing, aircraft assembly and MRO.

He said: “Within the MRO sector the bottlenecks are being sorted out little by little. It’s now a matter of time before we see MRO hubs emerging in India.”

He added that India’s civil aviation policy will be formalised very soon and that Mahindra aims to set up operations in Abu Dhabi in the near future. Mahindra in currently the only Indian company that produces aircraft, selling them in 30 countries including in the US and in parts of Africa and Asia.