Good morning! It’s a pleasure to be back in the United Arab Emirates and talking with so many colleagues and friends, at this year’s Global Aerospace Summit.
I’m returning this year, because I believe, this is an excellent forum to discuss innovation and partnership, here in the UAE, and across the International Aerospace community.
It’s fitting that this Summit takes place in the Emirates, here in the heart of the Middle East, as innovation has been rooted here for centuries.
The ancient libraries and academic centers of the Islamic Golden Age, led the world in scientific discovery, and established a paradigm for learning, that produced a host of breakthroughs in medicine, mathematics, and astronomy.
Today the people of the United Arab Emirates carry on that legacy of innovation, and, the aerospace industry is a driving force in that endeavor.
This Summit is a perfect venue to showcase our collective achievements and aspirations. And, I’m honored to be here with all of you.
The UAE’s commitment to embracing modern technology to build a strong and vibrant economy, one that provides high-tech jobs at home, and a solid network of trade around the world, can be traced all the way back to when Al Mahatta airfield opened in Sharjah in 1932.
At the time it was the first airport in the Gulf region, and immediately established this area as a critical hub for commercial flights between Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
The arrival of air transport here, at the dawn of the Aviation Age, helped the region grow and thrive, as a center of commercial and aviation innovation.
Today the UAE boasts: one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, the tallest building in the world, and what is soon to be one of finest cultural districts in the world – all thanks to the drive and innovation of the Emiratee people.
And at the heart of that innovation is the aerospace industry, an industry that can trace its roots back to those early Islamic astronomers in the ancient libraries of this very region.
At Lockheed Martin, we’ve seen first-hand how the aerospace industry drives the leading edge of technology and scientific discovery.
We’ve been an active partner with the UAE for many years.
Initially, we focused on defense programs like the C-130 airlifter, the F-16 fighter, the PAC-3 missile, and the THAAD missile defense system.
Through each of these programs, Lockheed Martin has worked with the UAE to provide innovative technologies and tools to help protect citizens and solve the nation’s most difficult challenges.
Over the years, our relationship has grown to include ground-breaking work in energy, cyber-security, and sustainability.
In all of these areas, Lockheed Martin has partnered with the UAE government, academic and research institutions, and local industry, to drive innovation and advance discovery.
A great example here in Abu Dhabi is our partnership with Mubadala and Sikorsky on the Advanced Military Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul Center, also known as AMMROC.
This joint venture, which was established in 2010, brings together world-class companies in a Center of Excellence, for the maintenance and support of the UAE’s F-16s C-130Js and many other platforms.
We’re also partnering with Khalifa University to support science, technology, engineering, and mathematics programs, teaching the skills that are critical to developing the next generation of scientists and innovators.
So when we were looking for a partner to expand our global network of research and innovation Centers of Excellence, the choice was easy.
We knew that the UAE was the perfect place for Lockheed Martin to establish a new model for innovation and collaboration among industry, government, and academia.
That’s why we launched our Center for Innovation and Security Solutions here in 2014.
We established the Center in Masdar City, to create a high-tech, re-configurable, collaboration space that enables us to create enduring partnerships with colleagues and customers, in the UAE and the region.
Through the Center we leverage our shared strength in innovation and advanced technologies, to enhance security and economic growth in the UAE.
As we celebrate the Center’s first year of operation, we have a great opportunity to reflect on what we’ve accomplished, and what we all can learn from this new model for driving innovation and collaboration.
I believe the Center for Innovation and Security Solutions is a model, even a blueprint, for successful innovation and collaboration.
So today, I’d like to share with you the three factors that set it apart from the rest: The first is connectivity.
They say that the more connections a brain has, the smarter the person becomes.
We’ve designed the Center to be a genius.
It has high-speed connectivity to several of Lockheed Martin’s most powerful networks, enabling extraordinary global interaction and exchange.
This allows us to tie together all of Lockheed Martin’s international research centers, and leverage the power of our Global Innovation Network, for the benefit of the Emiratee people.
For example, over the past year, the Center here, and our Lighthouse Center for Innovation in Suffolk, Virginia, worked together to host a Joint Flight Simulation training exercise with UAE Air Force pilots over the Global Innovation Network.
This collaboration between Lockheed Martin and the UAE Air Force leveraged the Center’s technology to train and prepare pilots at home with significantly less time and money.
Because of the Center’s connectivity, someone in Abu Dhabi could actually fly a campaign scenario with any flight simulator in the U.S. that’s linked into our network.
This type of global connectivity is exactly how our Center for Innovation and Security Solutions in the UAE is leading the way.
The UAE Air Force is one of our longest and closest relationships here, and we’re proud to continue to find ways to promote the performance and capability of our Emiratee partners.
That connectivity enables our second advantage: flexibility.
Charles Darwin believed that those species that adapted the most quickly were the most likely to thrive.
In our experience, flexible and adaptable systems promote increased collaboration and improved problem solving in real time.
We’ve built remarkable flexibility into the Center, so it can be leveraged, for everything from advanced flight simulation, to scenario development, to virtual training programs.
For example, last November, the Center hosted a Cyber-Security Challenge where UAE universities competed in a day-long exercise to defend against a cyber-attack.
The Cyber Challenge put 20 undergraduate students, from Abu Dhabi University, United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi Polytechnic, and Zayed University, through a series of challenges that simulated an actual cyber-attack on an oil and gas operator.
This gave students a greater understanding of the evolving nature of today’s cyber warfare tactics, and helped prepare them for careers in the growing cyber industry.
Speaking about the initiative, Dr. Mohamed Yousif Baniyas, Executive Director of the Higher Education Sector at the Abu Dhabi Education Council said, and I quote: “Working together with an industry leader like Lockheed Martin on this important challenge plays an important role in our overall strategic commitment to train students on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics-related activities.”
He continued on to say “Our future generation is being exposed to different learning opportunities with an emphasis on invention, innovation, and creativity – which is both helpful for their personal career paths as well as for the nation as a whole.”
That ability to bring together industry and students promotes our third advantage – which Dr. Baniyas hinted at, and that’s creativity. Creativity is the root of innovation.
It is the ability to imagine an alternative solution, the courage to step beyond the known answers, and the talent to turn dreams into reality.
Our Center for Innovation and Security Solutions fosters partnerships that encourage and reward creativity.
These partnerships are mutually beneficial, as we receive great new thinking and innovative ideas, while students get to see how they can apply their classroom knowledge to solve real-world challenges.
In fact, we are hosting a student event right now.
The Center is sponsoring a training program where students from Masdar Institute will learn the fundamentals of flight simulator scenario development.
At the end of the training, we will explore ways to have these certified students develop scenarios for the UAE’s commercial use.
Another way we’re harnessing the creativity of UAE students is through the Space Fundamentals Internship Program that we started with the Arab Youth Venture Foundation.
The program brings talented young people from the Middle East to intern with Lockheed Martin’s Space Systems Company in Denver, Colorado.
The program has proven to be a great opportunity for the students to be exposed to our industry.
It’s also been rewarding for us, in that, we get to work with, and be inspired by, such talented students.
In fact, a young woman from the UAE named Anfal Abdulrahman participated in the program last year.
Ms. Abdulrahman is a student majoring in Mechanical Engineering.
She joined the program because she wants to be part of “building the future” for her nation.
Ms. Abdulrahman said, and I quote: “Aerospace is all about learning what else is out there. The world is becoming a smaller village so everyone has to cooperate, especially in space.
Ms. Abdulrahman graduates from college in May and she is actively seeking employment in the aerospace industry here in the UAE.
So, be prepared. She’ll be knocking on all your doors very soon! And she will make an exceptional addition to anyone’s team.
Her goal, by the way, is to be the first Emiratee woman to go to space, maybe even to Mars!
We are currently working on expanding our space internship initiative with a targeted program specifically for the UAE.
The program would allow for students to participate in a blended space internship between our Center for Innovation and Security Solutions here in Abu Dhabi, and our Space Systems Company in the United States.
This new program would be another great way to leverage the creative thinking of young people, like Ms. Abdulrahman, and inspire them to reach their full potential.
I believe that we’ve established a powerful blueprint for innovation and collaboration here in the United Arab Emirates.
By bringing together government, industry, and academia, with technology that enables connectivity, flexibility, and creativity, we will unlock the true power of partnership and face the future together.
As I’ve said, we are honored to partner with the people of the United Arab Emirates, today and for many years to come.
The UAE stands on the cusp of a new age of growth and economic success – an age fueled by the creative spirit of the Emiratee people, and your long legacy of innovation.
By embracing the opportunities that today’s technology presents, you are well-positioned to meet the challenges of tomorrow and build a brighter future for all your people.
We look forward to continuing to stand with you.
Thank you very much.
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