Emirate Pavilion at Expo transforms into high-tech aviation hub

Facility features state-of-the-art aviation robotics, including an immersive theatre and VR sets, highlighting some of the region's most advanced technological developments

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Nasreen Abdulla

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General view of Emirates Pavilion at Expo City. KT Photos: Neeraj Murali.
General view of Emirates Pavilion at Expo City. KT Photos: Neeraj Murali.

Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 8:43 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 8:58 PM

The iconic Emirates Pavilion, renowned for its dynamic aircraft wing-inspired design during Expo 2020, has been transformed into a cutting-edge aviation innovation hub for the airline. Unveiling a futuristic showcase, the facility features state-of-the-art aviation robotics, including an immersive theatre and VR sets, highlighting some of the region's most advanced technological developments in the aviation sector.

Titled Ebdaa, which means creativity in Arabic, the hub is open only by invitation and will offer a platform for innovators to bring their creations to life with the help of the Emirates team.

Ebdaa was inaugurated by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive Emirates Airline & Group in the presence of Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and other dignitaries on Thursday.

“The aviation ecosystem is changing at a phenomenal pace, driven by technology and human ingenuity,” said Sheikh Ahmed. “Ebdaa will continuously evolve and will help us design amazing experiences for our customers and employees, create tailored solutions for the Emirates Group and reaffirm Dubai’s status as a hub for commercial aviation.”

Ebdaa and beyond

Spread over more than 35,000 sq. ft. and across three storeys, Ebdaa focuses on three key technologies – Robotics, AI and Web 3.0. According to Keenan Hamza, Vice President Technology Futures & Innovation at Emirates Group, the company is going to use the innovation hub in several ways. “We are going to grow our robotics team, our AI experts and our Web3 specialists,” he said. “There is also going to be greater focus on the future customer experiences and employee experiences.”

Despite the developments the company has made in the field of technology, it is important for the Emirates Group to retain the human touch, according to the company’s COO Adel Al Redha.

“We are trying to enhance the level of customer service and trying to minimize interaction but not to lose the human touch,” he said. “Many companies have gone for an automated answering machine where they have blindly adopted technology without really measuring its outcome. We evaluate technology, we evaluate this application, and we evaluate a return. So if the return is not there for the customer, we will not adopt technologies just for the sake of adopting it.”

He said the group will collaborate with universities, companies and research institutes to rope in students and young employees to bring their ideas to life. “We are looking for initiatives that helps the community,” he said. “Ideas that can reduce emission like how hydrogen fuel can support airplanes. So I think Ebdaa is a template to build on. We want to export initiatives from Dubai. It is an open platform to work with every entity that has something to offer in regard to, improving efficiency, sustainability and deploying of technology.”

Innovations

Within the hub, several innovations were up on display. Dubbed as a conference room of the future, an AI-powered executive boardroom allowed people to connect and collaborate with teams and audiences worldwide.

One of the highlights was a 55-seater XR theatre- a first of its kind within a corporate entity in the Middle East. Here, a combination of an LED powered stage, XR capabilities, camera tracking and real-time 3D renders enables presenters to connect and immerse global audiences in simulated worlds.

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