First UAE-made satellite now orbits space

TOKYO: The United Arab Emirates has successfully launched to the outer space the first ever Emirati-designed and manufactured satellite, a first in the Arab world ahead of the UAE’s quest to send a space exploration in Mars by 2020.

The KhalifaSat, named after the UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the first remote sensing satellite built from scratch in the UAE, was launched on October 29, 2018 on an H-IIA rocket from the Tanegashima Space Centre, an island in Japan.

Developed in technology labs at the Space Technology Laboratories of Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, KhalifaSat is one of the most technologically advanced remote-sensing observation satellites, with five patents registered.

The images provided by the satellite will be used in urban planning and management, ensuring the effective optimization of land use and realistic infrastructure proposals as well as to develop detailed maps of targeted areas & monitor major engineering & construction projects.

“Proud of the talented Emirati personnel at the @MBRSpaceCentre. They are the heroes behind this important project that carries the name of our President. Taking a picture of our Founding Father to outer space adds a wonderful note to our celebrations for the Year of Zayed,” tweeted H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council.

KhalifaSat is also designed to monitor environmental changes locally and internationally to support global efforts to preserve the environment. The satellite is also expected to provide detailed imagery of the ice caps at the North and South Poles, helping to detect the effects of global warming.

Q & A with Nael Attiyat

After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Geophysics at Damascus University, Attiyat began his career in the industry with DHL Jordan in 1996.

He spent more than 15 years of his solid 22 years in the industry with DHL, rising from the ranks, giving him full understanding of the inner workings of the global air freight sector.

He also worked for major companies like TNT and OSN in key management roles before moving to Royal Jordanian Cargo in 2016 where he is credited for making significant restructuring, making the company more profitable and competitive regionally and globally.

In an exclusive interview with Air Cargo Update, Attiyat, who also studied at Cambridge University and holds an MBA from New York’s Rutgers Business School, shares his insights and thoughts on Jordan’s top air freight company and the air cargo industry in general.

Royal Jordanian Cargo is one of the leading air freight carriers in the Middle East serving more than 28 airports throughout the Arab world and 22 points in Europe, what makes it superior to its competitors?

Thousands of years ago, Jordan played a major role in what was called at that time the “Silk Road” wherein it was recognized as the “Regional Distribution Centre” due to its favorable location, weather conditions and its ability to deliver on its tasks.

RJ Cargo is building on those facts in giving value to the logistical world’s map towards meaningful methods of transportation. Jordan’s geographical location and its ideal weather condition help in the supply chain in guaranteeing speed, consistency, ideal cost modeling and flexibility.

With that in mind, and knowing that we have a dynamic network of freighter and passenger aircraft, we managed to add great value to the supply chain globally.

With a great team, we’re able to provide the right solutions connecting the Far East, Europe, the United States to the Middle East, focusing on offering quality transit while meeting the growing demand for efficient air transportation.

How has the air freight industry transformed over the last few years in your opinion?

With regional dynamics and changes that are happening, along with increased demand for e-Commerce (B to C) regionally and globally, a new dimension in air freight service came about where quality and transparency became the key selling points for any carriers.

How can customers track their shipments? What techniques do you employ to track consign-ments?

We at RJ Cargo have re-introduced our website with better features and product information to help customers navigate easily in checking shipments, making inquiries or do other business transactions online.

Now customers can be introduced to our vast services and products apart from calculating the cost of shipping charges before preparing the MAWB, and most importantly, website offers transparent visibility where customers can track and trace their shipment. With those features, customers can know the exact departure and arrival details of their shipments. Thereby, they can plan accurately for receiving the shipments at final destination. This feature is available on

Do you agree that e-Commerce will help increase air cargo volumes? If so, please elaborate.

Developments in technology have led to global exposure online of numerous products. This has brought the supply chain closer, between end-user and seller, causing shortcuts that are needed to speed-up the process and reduce cost.

The e-Commerce demand is growing fantastically well in the last few years, and this year was no exception as we are experiencing a major peak caused by the growing demand to link between end-user and supplier.

While regionally we are at “Business to Consumer” Stage “B to C” we are actively looking and watching the (C to C) Consumer to Consumer Dynamics, preparing to make the necessary changes to meet the growing demand in that sector.

Are you planning to increase your clout in the Indian Sub-continent and if yes what steps have you taken for the same?

The Indian Subcontinent is a major player in the logistics world map. We are currently working very closely with our partners, supporting the high-demand through alliances that we have in place. These solutions have been introduced. However, we will watch the increasing demand to make sure that we have the right investment when needed.

Please tell us more about your plans for expansion.

We are going ahead with the plan we started about two years ago— promoting Jordan as a transit hub and regional gateway. Making sure that the investments needed should be well prepared and seized according to the market dynamics.

The air freight market is constantly changing and it’s more like the stock market nowadays. Every morning you open your eyes on something new and only dynamic organizations can capture the opportunities on time.

Sporty businessman loves off-road driving and desert camping

” I spend most of my free time enjoying camping in the desert, especially during winter time. I feel that I need to get out of the town. Get some fresh air, touch and play the sand. I have sheep, chickens, birds and some rabbits in the camp.”

 With plenty of scenic deserts and sand dunes,  especially in the capital Abu Dhabi, home to the world’s tallest and largest sand dunes towering at hundreds of meters, the United Arab Emirates’ natural landscape harmoniously blends with people seeking ways to relax and reflect.

Khalifa Al Reyami, vice chairman of Al Reyami Group, one of the biggest in the country with 15 companies under its wing, is among those who find comfort in spending time in the desert much like the Bedouin ancestors of the UAE who harnessed the power of the desert to bring clarity to one’s mind.

The Al Reyami Group began as a humble furniture store in 1994 with just five employees. Al Reyami says his father, founder and chairman, Rashid Mubarak Saif Al Reyami, a retired military official, eventually grew his business to become one of the biggest in the furniture and interiors industry, giving rise to more than 20 other subsidiaries in the steel, shipping & logistics, technologies, publishing & printing, among many other sectors.

At its peak, Al Reyami Group had over 8,000 employees with annual gross income of over AED600 million, records showed.

The Al Reyamis treat their employees like family and many of them have been there since inception.

The younger Al Reyami who now runs the family business says the desert brings him unmatched peace and happiness. He spends most of his free time camping in the desert with only the stars, the moon and his pets by his side.

“I spend most of my free time enjoying camping in the desert, especially during winter time,” Al Reyami shared to Air Cargo Update in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Dubai. “I feel that I need to get out of the town. Get some fresh air, touch and play the sand. I have sheep, chickens, birds and some rabbits in the camp.”

During summer, Al Reyami says he spends time at the gym to stay healthy and fit.

Al Reyami is also into off-road driving, one of the most exciting things you can experience in the Middle East with rugged terrain and towering sand dunes that collapse at every turn, giving you that indescribable adrenaline-rush. The businessman even had a special car built in the United States for his hobby.

“I have my off-road car built in America. You cannot drive it on the road. It’s a special car,” he said.

With the welfare of his five daughters on top of his priority, Al Reyami said he ditched the fast cars a long time ago in favor of off-road driving which is safer.

“I love fast cars but I have five daughters and I have to take care of them,” said Al Reyami, a former aircraft mechanic at the UAE Air Force before deciding to fully run their family business.

Nowadays, Al Reyami says he drives Nissan Patrol most of the time because it’s economical, family-friendly, spacious and flexible enough to be driven on the road or off-road.

Aircargo Forum 2018 Toronto

A digital world is the new normal

Air freight will remain an integral part of global business but the industry which accounts for US$2.7 trillion of the world’s economy must embrace it now or lose itself in the ongoing industrial revolution that demands more use of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation to speed up the process of doing things.

-By Gemma Q. Casas

TORONTO: Air freight will remain an integral part of global business but the industry which accounts for US$2.7 trillion of the world’s economy must embrace it now or lose itself in the ongoing industrial revolution that demands more use of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation to speed up the process of doing things.

While most carriers and others in the industry’s supply chain have already invested in technology to keep up with digitalization more needs to be done, according to experts who discussed at length the topic at The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) Air Cargo Forum held in Toronto, Canada on October 16-18.

Executives from eBay Canada, OMX, CHAMP Cargosystems, Unisys, and S/HE Blockchain who shared their insights on the subject all agree digitalization is the way forward for the industry which employs 65.5 million workers worldwide, including those in the aviation.

“Digital is the way to go,” enthused Dheeraj Kholi, Vice President & Global Head, Unysis. “This is happening today; integrated data is happening now.”

“This is what the future is, but technology is not just about Blockchain,” sympathised

Arnaud Lambert, CEO of CHAMP Cargosystems, said technology is the future but it’s not just about Blockchain but rather its effect on small things in our lives with big impact.

“Technology simplifies the process, starting with the customer in mind,” he said.

The panelists all agree an industry-wide change of mindset is necessary along the help of major stakeholders.

“The information is available today, but it is not shared,” stressed Kholi. “Technology will help and facilitate, but the first step is a mind change in allowing information to be distributed outside an organization.”

Sumit Srivastava, Head of Business Development and Seller Acquisition and Scaling, eBay Canada, noted: “If we are going to build a future, we have to start to act today.”

More than 500 delegates attended the opening plenary of ACF which included two days of discussions with topics ranging from Blockchain and the Fifth Industrial Revolution, to the state of the market, regulatory updates, and unmanned freight aircraft. An exhibition was also hosted at the venue which included Air Canada, Brussels Airport, Jan de Rijk Logistics, and Turkish Cargo.

Citing studies from the McKinsey Institute, it was highlighted that transportation and warehousing are the third most automatable sector with about 60 percent of work replaceable by automation. This would likely cover both the T&L vertical and the warehousing elements of retail and manu-facturing.

Growth in the horizon

Despite some challenges, industry experts forecast the air freight industry to sustain growth in the coming years with much of the commodities traded requiring its services, particularly in e-Commerce.

Darren Hulst, senior managing director of marketing at Boeing, told the delegates Boeing sees the air cargo industry to post 4.5 percent growth between 2018-2022 and world trade is likely to grow 4.2 percent during the period.

Hulst said e-Commerce is the game changer in today’s world. To illustrate his point, he said in 24 hours about 1.1 million smart mobile phones are shipped worldwide and about 20 million parcels are transported.

Airbus’s global market outlook forecast is also rosy albeit more conservative than Boeing at 3.7 percent in air freight and 3.4 percent for world trade in the next few years.

Increasing enthusiasm

Vladimir Zubkov, secretary general of TIACA, said about 90 speakers participated at this year’s ACF, which he described “as a sign of an increasing interest of our members and even non-members to sharing their knowledge, views, and achievements and to be on the agenda with a presentation or remarks during a panel.”

“The range of subjects was very wide: the latest regulatory challenges, collaboration with the legislators, the booming market of distribution warehouses in the context of e-commerce, the power of Blockchain, which was so much in demand that it required two sessions and several others which managed to keep the attention of the participants from the first minute until the last one,” the official noted.

Zubkov said the exhibitors had shown optimism and satisfaction in participating in the event which the body sees as a good indication to “steer the ACF 2020 in Miami in the right direction.”

At the forum, TIACA and the Germany-based Messe München signed an MoU agreeing to combine their strengths in organizing conferences and networking to make the next ACF a success.

Under the MoU, Messe Muenchen will organize the next ACF while TIACA will retain control of the content of the conference. Conversely, TIACA will be a strategic partner at Messe Muenchen transport logistic events in Munich, Shanghai and Istanbul. Both companies agreed to jointly promote the events.

Equation Critical : Delivering time sensitive shipments within the day

Innovations combined with ample resources make it possible for major carriers like Delta Cargo to take on shipments and have them delivered off-shores on the same day using GPS enabled systems.

Technology is making it possible for shippers to transport time-sensitive goods the fastest way through the introduction of different solutions like the GPS enabled shipments.

Time-sensitive needs come in two forms—expedited and time-critical services. Both are used to deliver the shipment to its destination quickly. Only difference is that time-critical shipments must arrive as soon as possible. Expedited services mean the shipment must be delivered fast, which can be achieved with same day delivery.

But by using time sensitive delivery services, you will have a lot more control over your shipment, ensuring that it is delivered safe and secure, avoiding traditional routes or methods of transporting the goods.

In today’s world, your shipment can be delivered internationally within the same day. Delta Cargo is pioneering in this fast route method with the introduction this year of Equation Critical, a new international service for international shipments.

Shawn Cole, Vice President of Delta Cargo, explained in an email interview with Air Cargo Update how Equation Critical delivers your time sensitive shipment at your door step in a jiffy.

Equation Critical

This new freight solution is a premium GPS-enabled service in transporting highly time-sensitive shipments that must travel on the next available flight, offering GPS tracking and moves with the highest priority across Delta’s global network. Customers will know where their shipment is, anywhere in the world, real time.

“In distinctive pink packaging, the Equation Critical service does not require pre-booking and can be tendered up to 90 minutes before a flight. This service caters to customers who are shipping time-sensitive items, such as legal documents, essential machinery parts and aircraft on the ground (AOG) components. Critical shipments come with a service-level guarantee and Delta’s Cargo Control Center proactively monitors Critical shipments throughout the journey,” notes Cole.

Delta Air Lines is headquartered in Atlanta, United States, so international shipments refer to anything shipped from the US to another country or vice-versa.

In the case of Equation Critical, the service was initially launched for international shipments originating in Atlanta, Savannah and London, destined for Bogota, Colombia; Johannesburg, South Africa; Quito, Ecuador; and Seoul-Incheon, South Korea. Atlanta, Savannah and London will also accept import shipments.

These routes allow fully GPS-enabled shipments. The company said Equation Critical will be progressively rolled out in other international markets across Delta’s extensive network, subject to customer demand and regulatory approvals.

GPS-enabled tracking

In any cargo business today, GPS technology extends further than just a tool to help cargo operators navigate from locations. With the advancement in mobile technology and mobile apps for logistics mobility solutions,

GPS technology has fully transformed the cargo industry. They are mobile app developers that can hand your GPS tracking solutions that include business-effectual tools required by your business and customer needs.

“A GPS tracker is attached to the Equation Critical shipment, so that it can be proactively monitored throughout the journey by Delta’s Cargo Control Center.  So Delta will know where this shipment is at all times.

“Equation Critical caters to customers who are shipping time-sensitive items, such as legal documents, essential machinery parts and aircraft on the ground (AOG) components. Critical shipments come with a service-level guarantee and Delta’s Cargo Control Center proactively monitors Critical shipments throughout the journey,” said Cole.

DASH Critical & Medical

Delta Cargo has been awarded IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) Pharma logistics Certification. Delta is the first US Global passenger carrier to receive this accolade and has now joined the elite group of pharma logistics providers to achieve CEIV Pharma Certification, and it would be through this service that Delta would ship temperature sensitive shipments.

“Delta Cargo’s Cargo Control Center (CCC) opened in 2017 to support daily cargo operations across the globe. The Atlanta facility provides comprehensive coverage of all aspects of cargo transportation and management, with the ability to track air shipments, trucks, mail and freight – domestically and internationally”.

Delta Cargo introduced DASH Critical & Medical in March 2017 and it was the first fully GPS-enabled, same-day product offered by a US freight carrier for shipments within the United States only.  Equation Critical is for international shipments only but uses the similar distinctive pink packaging.

Delta Cargo also offers the DASH Critical & Medical for time sensitive shipments in the US, where as Equation Critical is for international shipments – both have a GPS tracker.

“DASH Critical & Medical provides real-time tracking and monitoring of any eligible shipment, and customers can ship items up until 45 minutes prior to scheduled flight departure.  DASH Critical & Medical is available from 15 locations within the United States namely Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, LaGuardia (New York), Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, Orlando, Rochester (New York), Salt Lake City, San Francisco, Savannah and Seattle with service to 89 mainland US destinations and Hawaii”.

Equation Critical will be progressively rolled out in other international markets across Delta’s extensive network, subject to customer demand and regulatory approvals.

The CarePod

Delta Cargo recently entered into a long-term partnership with pet transportation tech start-up CarePod. The ‘pod’ product, designed to safely transport live animals in the bellies of aircraft, uses Internet of things (IoT) technology to offer customers real time updates on the status of their pets and their GPS-location.

Moreover, Delta plans to use its temperature-controlled holding areas and overnight kenneling services at various locations, adding that its Cargo Control Center, gives the airline constant visibility into all shipments, including pets.

The industry is paying greater attention to the safety of live-animal cargo after last year – a bad year for air traveling pets–when the Transportation Department tallied 24 fatalities, 15 injuries and one pet that was reported lost.

Delta Cargo also said that it would launch a new pet transportation strategy in conjunction with its partnership with CarePod. The company said it will also expand its ULD Bluetooth tracking capability to businesses based off-airport from early next year.

The US freight carrier began offering real-time Bluetooth-based tracking of its ULDs from select on-airport warehouses earlier this year, but the expansion to cargo customers’ own facilities represents a significant extension to the service.

Customers will be able to track their shipment from their own warehouses to a consignment’s final destination.

“The extension of the tracking technology directly to our customers’ facilities will ensure visibility for the whole freight journey, creating a best-in-class shipping experience,” adds Cole. “This is a genuine innovation, and we are on track to launch in January 2019, with full visibility later that year, once the customer installations are complete.”

They will be able to track their shipment on the website, while receiving customized ‘push’ notifications.

Of particular value to the carrier, real-time ULD tracking will allow Delta’s Cargo Control Center to more accurately monitor and reroute shipments that are delayed due to irregular operations, such as bad weather.

ROBOTICS is changing India’s warehouse landscape

The Flipkarts, the Amazons, the Snapdeals, the Myntras, the Jabongs, et al., have been changing the dynamics of not just the e-commerce sector in India, but also impacting other businesses—logistics, warehousing, supply chain management and multimodal transportation.

At the core of this change are rapid technological changes that are taking place, bringing about efficiency, scale, quick turnaround times, so crucial in transportation.

With artificial intelligence/robotics making faster inroads (thankfully no one is opposing automation, remember the days when bank employees in India were up in arms when computers were being introduced in the banking system) in various sectors, there is a new found dynamism in businesses.

As regards the warehouse sector, it is seeing a tectonic shift from ramshackled godowns with men carrying loads (it still is rampant but changes are taking place at least in the cities) to automated systems.

Massive warehouse space

As India shifts its development gears, deployment of automation is going to increase considerably. The growth of the warehousing industry itself is impressive, with warehouse space likely to touch 1,439 million square feet by the end of 2019, up from the present 909.5 million square feet.

The warehouse sector is expected to touch double digit by 2022. This is going to create not only employment opportunities but also large scale deployment of automation. No wonder, start-ups like Grey Orange, iFuture, Rivigo, etc., are doing well. Smart automation is what some of them offer.

GreyOrange expanding fast

Bengaluru-based Grey Orange is a multinational technology company that designs, manufactures and deploys advanced robotics systems for automation in warehouses, distribution and fulfilment centres.

Founded by BITS-Pilani graduates Samay Kohli and Akash Gupta, Grey Orange produces up to 1,500 robots a month and has research and development centres in India, the US and Singapore. Through the use of flexible automation, the power of artificial intelligence and exceptional customer service, Grey Orange works closely with businesses to recognize their needs, optimize the supply chain and enhance process efficiency.

Some of its clients include Flipkart, Myntra, Jabong and Pepperfry in the ecommerce realm and Aramex, DTDC, Delhivery and Mahindra Tractors in logistics. Its overseas customers include Hongkong based Kerry Logistics, Singapaore-headquartered Ninja Van, Japan’s Nitori, Trusco and Daiwa, Brazil’s Loggi and Indonesia’s Pos Indonesia.

Arkrobot and its clockwork efficiency

Another robotics company, also from Bengaluru making significant forays is iFuture Robotics. Set up recently in 2016, the company offers products and solutions with RoHS (restriction of hazardous substances) compliance and in-line with global safety standards. Its flagship product in the Indian market is Arkrobot which is a warehouse automation robot.

It is looking at entering the US and European markets where the rate of technology adoption is much higher. Arkrobot is a breakthrough in automatic order fulfillment technology, suited for ecommerce and other industries. Arkrobot offers solutions to clients ranging from startups to gigantic scale order fulfillment centres and automated warehouses.

In a business that requires storing and retrieving of huge number of product inventories, it is critical to implement a quick and efficient automation solution. It is widely known that manpower dependency leads to delays, quality issues, inaccurate picking and slower pick rates, hence, reduced throughput from a warehouse.

A rapidly growing business which is looking to scale up often faces this as a bottleneck when it comes to handling the surge of orders. The current process involves sending pick workers with a trolley to inventory locations, but it has many challenges. With Arkrobot the scenario changes where the goods are brought to the people and stored efficiently using data analytic such that the fastest selling items are always stored closest to the worker.

The company states that is among the most advanced and efficient automatic storage and retrival systems (ASRS) in the world.  Arkrobot is offered in the Indian market to industry segments such as e-commerce, automotive and logistics.

The company’s founder Rajesh Manpat states that the market for robots is going to grow exponentially and the Indian factories and logistics firms are understanding the value of artificial intelligence.

Robotic palletization and more

Similarly, Noida-based Addverb Technologies provides robotic integration, warehouse automation and industrial internet of things by leveraging industry 4.0 technologies. Addverb provides customizable, modular, robust and innovative solutions to cater to the needs of an increasingly digital supply chain.

The company’s solutions include Robotic Palletization; Robotic Pick and Place; and Bin Plucking solutions. Robotic Palletization is used for the automation of production process, where the robots can pick case or cartons from the production line and arrange them on a pallet for storing or shipping.

These robotic solutions offer dramatically higher throughput and improve ergonomics of the workplace. Addverb provides robotic palletization solutions for cartons, crates, drums and containers. It has integration expertise over ABB, Kuka, Delta and Omron Adept Robots. Its Pick and Place solutions are ideal for high speed picking operations. The Bin Picking solutions can pick random objects kept in a tray /bin and load the arranged parts at the start of the production line. Addverb’s solutions are used in the pharma, automotive and food chain supply entities.

Logistics companies have started understanding the value of automation. The Vice President (Marketing) of Safexpress, Mr. Vineet Kanaujia has stated that the focus will be on establishing centralized warehouses with investments in technologies. Safexpress is banking on artificial intelligence for its next level of growth. So far, it has created 32 logistics parks in Hyderabad, Manesar etc and has a roadmap for more futuristics logistics hubs in smaller towns such as Coimbatore, Siliguri etc. A report by CBRE mentions that regions such as Gurgaon, Chennai, Hyderabad, Pune and Kolkata are witnessing launch of large scale supply in the ware-housing and logistics space.

According to the 2017 World Robotics Report, published by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), by 2020 over 1.7 million new industrial robots will be installed in factories around the world.

Today, the strongest growth in robotics industry is in Asia – led by China as the world’s number one marketplace. It said robot supplies in the Americas will surge by 16 percent and in Europe by 8 percent.

Important drivers of this develop-ment are said to be that it leads to faster business cycles and its flexibility tailored to customer demand in all manufacturing sectors. ‘Robots offer high levels of precision and their connectivity will play a key role in new digital manufacturing environments,” states Joe Gemma, President of IFR.

In India, one of the drivers certainly is the ecommerce segment which is presently catering to only mega cities and when it forays in Tier II and III cities, the warehouse and logistics sectors will explode and only robotics will be able to handle the scale. And it is a myth that robotics is expensive.

In China alone there are said to be over 10 million robots and it is capitalizing on robotics to propel its place as number one as far as manufacturing is concerned.  India, on the other hand, is a service oriented hub, but is now realizing the importance of manufacturing and to catch up with China, it has adopted artificial intelligence on a larger scale.

However, newer industry segments such as e-commerce, logistics, parcels, retail, etc., are giving birth to new opportunities for applications of robotics. It’s happening soon. The writing is on the warehouse wall.

First Priority Cargo Logistics simplified

The UAE’s advanced infrastructure and forward thinking policies continue to push its economy to grow with World Bank and other international financial bodies forecasting growth to accelerate in the country in 2019 and 2020 when it hosts World Expo in Dubai.

Dubai, the country’s financial capital, is fast rising in global trade, posting external non-oil trade in the first nine months of 2018 AED965.3 billion. Re-exports registered 13 percent growth to touch AED299.2 billion, while imports reached AED 592.2 billion, and exports AED97.7 billion, government records showed.

Dubai Customs pointed out Dubai’s distinctive performance in external trade reflects the success of government policies and initiatives and strategic sustainability development plans to support growth in various economic sectors, including air freight and logistics.

But decades ago Dubai, home to the world’s tallest structure, the Burj Khalifa, which puts to shame even New York’s tallest buildings, was once just a fishing village with barren desert and only one-high structure, the World Trade Center, built in 1979.

WTC was also the tallest in the Middle East at that time, created under the leadership and vision of the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed            Al Maktoum, father of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who continued to transform Dubai into a major global city that everyone looks up to.

Dilip K. Sitlani, vice president for business intelligence & operations of First Priority Cargo, who came to Dubai for the first time in the 1980s as a teen to join his family was among those who saw the emirate’s major transformation.

Combining work with studies, Sitlani got his break in the air cargo industry when he got hired as duty officer for ramp and load operations at Cargolux Airlines, the Luxembourg-based freight carrier which was among the first carriers to do business in the city.

Under his father’s visa, Sitlani managed to work for Cargolux, rising from the ranks throughout his nearly 20-year career at the company.

“Whatever I know today, it’s from Cargolux. I’ve been in the cargo industry for 30 years and the experience has been excellent. There’s a lot of learning. Cargo situation changes every day,” said Sitlani.

Cargo grows with Dubai’s growth

With everything imported to the UAE and the rest of the oil-rich Middle East back in the day, the cargo industry flourished in the region, particularly in Dubai, now considered one of the busiest logistics and freight hubs in the world.

Sitlani said all food, personal effects and even soil from all over the world were flown to Dubai and studied for their potential to grow various trees, fruits and vegetables, a clear indication of the government’s push to provide for the UAE’s food security despite its harsh climate and  unfavorable natural conditions.

“Actually, the cargo industry played a big role in Dubai’s growth. All the food, trees, special soil, and so on, were flown from different parts of the world. Special scientists were brought here to study them. Today, you have all sorts of trees growing and you even have the Miracle Garden. That’s how far they have gone,” said Sitlani. “It’s been a great experience to have grown up in Dubai as a kid.”

Sitlani credited Sheikh Mohammed and the Royal family for their vision to transform Dubai into a futuristic megacity.

“These are all made possible through the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. He was the Defense Minister when I came to Dubai and he gave a statement that he will change Dubai and follow his father’s vision. What you see today is all from Sheikh Rashid who had already planned DP World, the Maktoum Airport and so on. He just followed that vision and now, of course, his son, the Crown Prince, is doing the same,” he said.

The UAE’s air freight market is projected to grow 4.8 percent between 2017 to 2021, largely driven by expansion projects combined with new investments in the logistics sector. From 2012-2016, its freight market grew by 8.6 percent compounded annually. This year, the UAE is forecast to handle nearly 5 million tons of cargo, the third largest in the world.

Africa’s leading partner

First Priority Cargo specializes in serving the African market out of the need of the continent for a reliable air freight company.

It has Ethiopian Airlines, the largest airline in the African continent, Sharjah International Airport, and Air Arabia, the first low cost carrier in the region, as partners.

“First Priority Cargo specializes in cargo into Africa. Africa is our key market. And it’s been going strong ever since. All people from Africa shop in Dubai and they send it back home through us,” said Sitlani.

Contrary to popular notion that it’s difficult to do business in Africa, Sitlani said their experience has been blissful saying, “All transactions are in cash & the risk is very little. Africa is good.”

First Priority Cargo flies six full flights a month to Nigeria’s capital Lagos and its key city in the north, Kano. From there, the shipments are distributed to the country and other nations in Africa.

“They come and shop here and we deliver it directly to Lagos and Kano. We do a huge range in Africa. From Kano and Lagos, the goods are distributed all over Africa,” explained Sitlani. He described the goods as mostly “personal effects, electronics, furniture, a mix of everything.”

“Dubai is the shopping paradise for Africans,” noted the business executive who credits the company’s strong team work for First Priority Cargo’s positive growth.

“Team work is our number one priority. It’s like the first priority,” said Sitlani highlighting that quality customer service is also one of their strengths.

Speed and reliability

Anvar Majeed, First Priority Cargo director for UAE, says the company focuses on building a niche market known for speed and reliability.

“We excel in rendering total logistics solution, building close partnerships as well as relationships. The secret to our success is the excellent service we provide to our customers at very economical rates,” said Majeed.

He credits Sitlani for steering the company to the right direction and introducing innovations.

“Our group VP Business Intelligence  Dilip Sitlani has moved us ahead with new ideas and innovations and signed up with Sharjah Airport for a screening machine in our facility and would be the first agent in the UAE to have this facility of pre-screening,” said Majeed.

First Priority Cargo’s facilities in Sharjah are open 24/7.

The company which handles the delivery of Lamborghini on behalf of Al Jaziri Motors, the official distributor of the Italian luxury sports car in the UAE, won two awards in July from two major carriers—AirFrance/KLM Cargo and Turkish Cargo.

Partners through subsidiaries

Through its subsidiaries, First Priority Cargo’s customers from Africa who may need services for shipments elsewhere can also get assistance.

Sitlani explained one of their subsidiaries offer multimodal services with access to hundreds of destinations thanks to ties to three of the world’s biggest airlines—Emirates, Etihad Airways and Turkish Airlines.

“We have this Block Space Agreement with Emirates, Etihad and Turkish Airlines which other agents don’t have. We can virtually use them for any routes,” Sitlani explained, noting that with the agreement customers can reach “all destinations in the world.”

This year, the subsidiary reached another milestone when it opened its new office at the Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZA) which launched this month its 24/7 operations to meet the demand of its growing clients.

“We’re now open 24/7 and we have two DG (dangerous goods) experts on board,” said Sitlani noting that the company is both GCA (UAE General Civil Aviation) and DAFZA compliant in handling dangerous goods or hazardous materials—chemicals, mixtures of substances, manufactured products or articles which can pose risk to people, animals or the environment if not properly handled in use or in transport.

As a fully licensed and approved DG handler, the subsidiary has its own dedicated DG handling area within its warehouse confines, equipped with an expert team of dedicated and highly qualified DG personnel to handle all its customers DG requirements.

These facilities are extended to both Dubai and Sharjah in view of providing timely handling of all DG shipments. The service offerings include repackaging of DG shipments as per IATA DG regulations for air shipments and IMO regulations for ocean shipments and cover any and all DG or hazardous materials classified commodities.

Air, land and sea

Apart from unparalleled route link through its airline partners, First Priority Cargo has advantages through subsidiaries that offer global air charter flight solutions, arranging and organizing dedicated freighter flights, to and from any destination worldwide at short notice.

Clients have the option to choose from bulk, narrow-bodied or wide-bodied freighter aircraft fit to carry emergency supplies, relief cargo, live animals, and vehicles, among many other things. They also deal with international ocean freight, working in tandem with some of the world’s leading shipping lines.

In land, its subsidiaries also offer reliable and on-time solutions  available 24/7 throughout the year, guaranteeing the quickest routes. With partners across GCC countries and worldwide, the firms also manage a comprehensive Door-to-Door or Door-to-Port Road Haulage service to cater to customers’ distribution needs, whilst taking care of all the tedious customs and border formalities.

“Our strength is in offering our customers tailor-made solutions, with the best available schedules and transit times at competitive prices. We are capable of handling consignments of any size, with assurance of expert handling by a team of experienced professionals,” said Sitlani.

The cargo business in Dubai has been in an upward swing and the trend is likely to continue through 2020 when the city hosts World Expo.

Apart from general cargo, one of its subsidiaries also acts as the GSA for Cebu Pacific, a privately-owned budget airline in the Philippines, and other destinations it serve in the Far East like Hong Kong, Singapore and Incheon City in South Korea.

With about over 700,000 Filipinos working in the UAE, the company  is also working with Cebu Pacific to introduce a door-to-door cargo service throughout the Philippines.

“Right now, were doing air-to-air delivery but soon we will be launching door-to-door delivery with our offsite agents in the Philippines,” said Sitlani.

Inspiring journey

Working at his teens in the air cargo industry, you would think Dilip Sitlani would grow tired of it. But his passion in this highly competitive world went on for decades, bringing him new heights in his career at every opportunity.

He began his career as duty officer for ramp operations and load control with Cargolux Airlines, mainly looking after the ramp operations on a day-to-day basis. He described himself as an “expert in offloading and loading the 747/400 & 747/800.”

He eventually became the operations manager at Cargolux where he spent the first two decades of his career before moving on to Sharjah Airport Authority, Dubai World Central and Dubai Airports, where he held key manage-ment positions for many years.

Last year, Sitlani moved to First Priority Cargo & simulta-neously held the position of vice president for business development and operations of two of its sister companies in the logistics industry.

For Sitlani, staying loyal to your career will lead to leaps and bounds in the long run.

“First, get educated because that’s very important today,” advises Sitlani who began working in the air cargo industry in his teens. “Hopping and skipping won’t get you anywhere that’s what I learned.”

And despite his well deserved achievements, Sitlani who holds a BA from the University of Mumbai and numerous specialized certifications, remains humble, a trait he says is necessary to lead effectively and reach your goals.

“Be humble. Keep your feet on the ground. Regardless of what’s written in your business card, when you leave your office, you’re just another human being,” Sitlani humbly says.

HashMove targets ‘Uberization’ of Logistics

Logistics businesses are continually striving to embrace the perennial developments in technology. When it comes to meeting varying demands and challenges, technology emanates as the core differentiator. The emerging ‘Uberization’ of logistics is inevitable, and logistics operators who don’t adopt and adapt will become redundant. On-demand logistics, market transparency, competitive real-time pricing, and conducive collaborations are defining the very framework of the supply chain.

Speaking with Al Arabiya in an interview, Sarfaraz Alam, CEO, and co-founder of HashMove discussed how disruption in logistics and digital transformation has completely changed the dynamics of business. He accentuated the significance of a logistics infrastructure for a company’s productivity and how HashMove’s Marketplace will usher in a one-stop-shop for logistics providers and consumers, leading to the uberization of logistics in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“I totally believe Saudi Arabia will be the next powerhouse, along with the UAE in terms of technological advancement. Whatever this region has achieved and how dynamic it appears to the rest of the world is because of the leadership and vision here.”

New technologies to transform future cargo movement

Global trade enabler DP World has highlighted its ambition to use Hyperloop and blockchain technologies to revolutionize the movement of cargo across borders.

Speaking at the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Group Chairman and CEO of DP World, already the biggest investors in Hyperloop technology, announced that it is working on a new type of Blockchain technology that will make the movement of cargo more transparent to the cargo owner.

“We are creating one of the most efficient systems to deliver cargo, by assembling the best minds in supply chain and retail, which will put businesses in control of their goods. Through these new transformative technologies, we will be able to disrupt how global trade is conducted, while creating a transparent and efficient system to deliver cargo faster and efficiently,” said Bin Sulayem.

Speaking about the potential of Hyperloop technology in Saudi Arabia and enabling smarter trade, Bin Sulayem said, “As the largest investor in Virgin Hyperloop One, we want to ensure that we are bringing this game changing technology to the region first. The UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have evolved into leaders in international trade, and Hyperloop One could bring major economic benefits with the the potential to unlock continents over vast distances. Here in KSA, the Red Sea is a major artery of global trade – over 10% of the volume of world trade passes through it but 90% of ships using it bypass Jeddah. We believe that using our latest technologies, we can help make Saudi Arabia and Jeddah an efficient cargo hub for the continents of Africa, Asia and Europe.”

Trade and infrastructure are key pillars in enabling growth supported by technology and automation and DP World is working closely with the Saudi government to explore new opportunities for development.

“This region was a knowledge importer; but now it is becoming a knowledge exporter with the technologies we are using in our operations,” said Bin Sulayem.

HLT to implement its cargo management systems at Hyderabad International Airport

Hermes Logistics Technologies (HLT) is to implement cargo management systems at India’s Hyderabad International Airport (HYD).

HLT has signed a five-year contract with GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL), including a systems upgrade schedule for Hyderabad Airport’s cargo terminal.

“GMR team’s requested timeline from contract signature to production was an extremely ambitious 60 days,” said Yuval Baruch, chief executive, Hermes Logistics Technologies.

“I am proud to say that HLT rose to the challenge and we managed to go live just 58 days after signing the contract.

GHIAL-owned and operated Hyderabad International Airport is the sixth largest international airport in India.

“We selected Hermes Logistics Technologies for our cargo management systems at Hyderabad International Airport because we need state-of-the-art, reliable software to ensure the smooth handling of cargo,” said SGK Kishore, GHIAL chief executive.

GHIAL is part of the New Delhi-headquartered GMR Group which specialises in the infrastructure sector with projects across India and around the world, including airports, energy, transportation, and urban infrastructure.