Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi
Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi Kamil Rogalinski/Unsplash

The first DRIFTx event kicked off Thursday, bringing 80 experts and 75 exhibitors together from across the world in Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit to discuss the latest trends, innovations, and breakthroughs in sustainable transportation.

The event took place in collaboration with the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT), the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), Abu Dhabi's Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster, Bayanat, and local and international partners.

Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Department of Municipalities and Transport, said Abu Dhabi has everything that would take the future of mobility to the next level, such as the best infrastructure, forward-looking government, and aligned stakeholders from the public and private sector.

"That's why we're continuously partnering with the world's most exciting innovators across mobility who are attracted to Abu Dhabi's leading proposition. This is an exciting time, throughout DRIFTx, you'll get a glimpse of mobility products that will become operational in the immediate future," he was quoted as saying by WAM.

Nayef Shahin, Director of Innovation and Knowledge at ADIO, discussed Abu Dhabi's Smart and Autonomous Vehicle Industry (SAVI) cluster initiative, explaining that it makes the Emirates a top hub for smart and self-driving vehicles.

He further said that this initiative helps not only land but also air and sea travel, contributing AED 44 billion to the emirate's economy and generating 35,000 to 40,000 jobs by 2045.

"At SAVI we have prioritized research and development, we have the capabilities to test products and we're now developing manufacturing capabilities," Shahin said.

"We're also collaborating with all necessary private and public stakeholders to ensure our innovative solutions have real-world impact. As a result of this, we believe that flying taxis will be operational in Abu Dhabi in the near future," he added.

Joby Aviation's CEO JoeBen Bevirt, Archer Aviation CEO Adam Goldstein and Aviation Safety Affairs Assistant Director General Aqeel Ahmed Al Zarouni spoke about the latest upgrades in drone technology and eVTOL aircraft alongside opportunities and challenges for the technology's integration in existing urban infrastructure.

Goldstein said DRIFTx allows an "opportunity to glimpse into the future, which is incredibly fascinating," adding that "Abu Dhabi offers a unique opportunity, there is an exciting energy here, and at Archer, we're collaborating with partners leveraging the support of the Emirate's enabling ecosystem."

During the event, Joby Aviation and the Department of Municipalities and Transport - Abu Dhabi (DMT), the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) and the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) signed a multilateral MOU over scaling Joby air taxi services in the UAE.