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US electric aircraft developer lands in Abu Dhabi

US UAE trade aircraft Odys Aviation
Odys Aviation, the US vertical take-off and landing aircraft developer, is planning to set up a UAE HQ
  • Odys Aviation will open HQ and plant in UAE
  • Follows a recent surge in UAE-US deals
  • Trade worth about $8bn in Q1, 2023

A hybrid-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft developer from California is planning to set up a regional HQ in Abu Dhabi as trade deals between the Emirates and the US focus on advanced technologies.

Odys Aviation has joined the UAE Ministry of Economy’s NextGen foreign direct investment programme, which aims to attract digitally enabled businesses to launch and then scale their operations in the UAE.

The company, which plans to launch a prototype in 2025, aims to deliver all-electric propulsion for 320km and a hybrid-electric range of more than 1,200km for pan-GCC air travel.

The move follows a recent surge in UAE-US deals including PureHealth acquiring a AED1.8 billion stake in Tennessee-based Ardent Health Services. Abu Dhabi sovereign investor Mubadala has invested $500 million in Brightspeed, a US broadband and telecoms services company.

The deals are part of a growing bilateral trade and investment story which was worth about $8 billion in the first quarter of 2023, according to the US Census Bureau.

Earlier this month, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, minister of state for foreign trade, led a UAE delegation to the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Maryland.

Al Zeyoudi met with US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo to discuss accelerating cooperation in priority sectors such as clean energy initiatives, food and water security and advanced technology.

Last year, non-oil bilateral trade was worth $30 billion, with the US ranked as the UAE’s fourth largest trading partner.

“Collobaration with US companies in Web3, renewable energy, agtech, space sciences and quantum computing can reap significant rewards,” said Al Zeyoudi.

According to the foreign minister, foreign direct investment from the UAE into the US has exceeded $33 billion at the end of 2022, representing 43 percent of the inward investment from the Middle East. The UAE is today home to over 1,500 US firms.

Al Zayoudi, Al Otaiba and RaimondoWam
Al Zayoudi met with Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, and US commerce secretary Gina Raimondo

Yousef Al Otaiba, UAE ambassador to the US, said: “As we continue to grow in sectors such as semi-conductors, life sciences, space, agtech and renewable energy, there is no better time for US companies to establish headquarters in the UAE.”

Odys Aviation said it will also open an assembly and maintenance plant and will create more than 2,000 jobs in the UAE. 

James Dorris, co-founder and CEO at Odys Aviation, described the UAE as the “perfect market”, adding: “Our aircraft will mean new opportunities for domestic air connectivity in the UAE and regional flying between key GCC cities.

“It will cut door-to-door times in half compared to conventional travel options today, and in a carbon friendly way.”

Al Zeyoudi also led a delegation to Texas, the single-largest state exporter to the UAE, to identify bilateral investment and collaboration opportunities for private sector companies.

He held meetings with leading startups that use blockchain and quantum computing to advance the real estate, emergency responses, logistics, utilities and media sectors.

Talks also took place this month to strengthen Emirati-US relations in food security, agricultural innovation, climate change solutions and sustainable financing during a Washington DC visit by Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, minister of climate change and environment.

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