Advancing strategic priorities for aviation in the Middle East Region

​The seventh meeting of the Directors General of Civil Aviation in the Middle East Region (DGCA-MID/7), which took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia from 19 to 20 May 2024, concluded with a shared commitment to advance strategic priorities for aviation in the region. The meeting, generously hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, brought together the leadership of the region's air transport regulators, along with high-level representatives from international and regional organizations and industry partners, to discuss key initiatives and collaborative efforts aimed at ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for aviation in the Middle East. 

In his opening remarks, the President of the ICAO Council Mr. Salvatore Sciacchitano emphasized the importance of regional cooperation in addressing the challenges facing the aviation industry, stating, "The Middle East region has demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability in the face of global challenges. By working together and leveraging our collective strengths, we can ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for aviation in the region and beyond." 

Strategic Objectives and Priority Areas 

ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar outlined the Organization's current strategic objectives and priority focus areas in his keynote address. Highlighting the need for collaborative efforts to achieve the Long-Term Global Aspirational Goal (LTAG) of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, noting the importance of sustainable aviation fuels, new technologies, and operational improvements. 

Mr. Salazar stressed the importance of collaboration, stating, "Significantly strengthening our collective commitment, both politically and financially, to the programmes and workstreams within each of these focus areas will directly enable us to drive meaningful, tangible progress in the Middle East region and beyond." 

Other priorities discussed included measures to bolster aviation cybersecurity, implement the ICAO Trust Framework, strengthen regional crisis preparedness, facilitate the integration of new airspace entrants, and continue the evolution of ICAO's Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP) and Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP). 

Cooperation and Implementation Support 

Mr. Mohamed Abubaker Farea, ICAO Regional Director for the Middle East, underscored the vital role of regional cooperation: "The ICAO MID Regional Office plays a pivotal role in delivering assistance to States and coordinating crisis response. We deeply appreciate the voluntary contributions and implementation support provided by States under the No Country Left Behind initiative, which is crucial to ensuring that all countries in the region can benefit from the growth and development of the aviation sector." 

Mr. Salazar joined the President of the Council in congratulating the Middle East Region for the initiative to develop the MID Region Air Transport Strategic Plan 2025-2040, which was endorsed by this meeting. 

ICAO senior leaders also commended the spirit of cooperation and respect for safety prioritization exemplified by the rapid addressing of several Air Traffic Management (ATM) operational challenges through the MID Contingency Coordination Teams (CCTs), and the support provided to States for the development and update of their ATM Contingency Plans. 

Future Growth and ICAO Transformation 

To guide the aviation sector through an era of unparalleled innovation and mounting climate pressures, ICAO is putting the final touches on a visionary Strategic Plan for 2026-2050 and Business Plan for 2026-2028. These blueprints will be essential to ensuring the organization is fit for purpose to support the safe, secure and sustainable growth of air transport in the Middle East and globally, building upon the strong foundation of its 80-year history. 

Mr. Abubaker Farea emphasized the significance of the DGCA-MID/7 meeting outcomes in shaping ICAO's strategic direction, especially as preparations begin for the 42nd ICAO Assembly next year. 

The meeting concluded with a shared commitment among all participants to work together towards ensuring a sustainable and resilient future for aviation in the Middle East and around the world, carrying forward the legacy of ICAO's 80 years of service to the global aviation community.

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