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Emirates Group unveils Ebdaa, an aviation innovation hub at Expo 2020 Dubai

Ebdaa is designed to help foster strategic collaboration with corporate leaders and VIPs, forge new partnerships and inspire people, says Emirates CEO.

Emirates Group unveils Ebdaa, an aviation innovation hub at Expo 2020 Dubai
[Source photo: Emirates | Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

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The Emirates Group has unveiled Ebdaa, its high-tech aviation innovation hub, which translates to “creativity” in Arabic. The center is situated in the Emirates Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, repurposed to serve as a dedicated space for fostering innovation in the aviation industry.

Vice President Technology Futures & Innovation at Emirates Group, Keenan Hamza, said, “We don’t just like to talk about innovation. We want to walk the talk as well. So, we want to bring innovation to life using Ebdaa. We want people to experience it. We want people to feel it and interact with it.”

Edbaa was inaugurated by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive Emirates Airline & Group, in the presence of H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, as well as dignitaries from Dubai Future Foundation, General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs, Dubai Police, General Civil Aviation Authority, Department of Economy and Tourism Dubai, and flydubai, partners from technology companies, and senior Emirates Group executives.

“Collaboration is a muscle. You have to build it. You have to spend a lot of time, hard work and dedication to keep it a muscle,” said Hamza.

On partnering with Emirates Group, Dr. Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, said, “If you rewind to 1985 when that first flight to Karachi has flown to where we are at the moment, you can see that people tend to underestimate what has happened in such a short period. This is driven by visionary leaders who are willing to take those bets. This is the DNA of Dubai Future Foundation, and Emirates Airlines is a clear example of a successful bet.”

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, said, “Ebdaa will continuously evolve and tap into these drivers – the latest tech, R&D and insights; customer feedback; our people’s expertise; and our thriving community of partnerships and start-ups. It 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,”

Spanning 35,520 square feet across three floors, Ebdaa is dedicated to three key technologies: Robotics, AI, and Web3. This innovation hub features the region’s inaugural XR theatre within a corporate entity, accommodating 55 seats. The XR theatre integrates an LED-powered stage, XR capabilities, camera tracking, and real-time 3D renders, creating an immersive environment at the intersection of technology and creativity.

Moreover, the center boasts an aviation robotics lab, working with Dubai Future Labs and other leaders in the sector. The space is designed to be a workspace for design, development and experimentation in social and industrial robots, including the first AI customer support robot developed in-house.

The group introduces MIRA, their latest Extended Reality (XR) platform, in their VR chamber. Displayed at Dubai Airshow 2023, MIRA will undergo trials and demonstrations utilizing the latest wearables, ranging from headsets to haptic gloves. The initial phase of MIRA involves virtualizing all Emirates cabins and galleys, primarily for crew training.

The hub includes an AI-powered executive boardroom boosting global connectivity and collaboration for executives with teams and audiences worldwide. Additionally, their IX studio is a versatile space with high-fidelity video, audio, and presentation technology. It is a collaborative environment for teams to design new products and access an extensive content library, immersing guests in various destinations.

Adel Al Redha, Chief Operating Officer at the Emirates Group, emphasizes customer-centric innovation. He states, “At Emirates, we evaluate technology. We evaluated this application and its return. So, if the return is not there for the customer, we will not adopt technology just for the sake of it; it had to provide benefit.”

“This center is not only for Emirates. Here, it is an open platform to work with every entity with something to offer regarding improving efficiency and sustainability deploying technology,” added Al Redha. 

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