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EAU Leadership


Board of Governors


His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum - Chairman & Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum began his aviation career in 1985, when he was appointed President of the Dubai Department of Civil Aviation. In the same year, he became Chairman of the newly founded Emirates, and helmed the launch of the airline with two leased aircraft to two destinations from Dubai. Today, he leads the Emirates Group, which includes dnata.

Emirates is now an award-winning global airline with a network of more than 150 destinations spanning six continents. With more than 270 aircraft, the airline has the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s. Under his leadership, Emirates has been profitable for the last 30 years, a rarity in the airline industry.

dnata is one of the world’s largest air services providers that operates in 127 airports. Offering ground handling, cargo, travel, and flight catering services in 85 countries across six continents, dnata is a trusted partner for over 300 airline customers worldwide.

Sheikh Ahmed has contributed immensely to Dubai’s global stature as a leading business, tourism, trade and transport hub, with aviation now accounting for 28% of its GDP. With several leadership roles in government, his role in the formulation of policies and strategies has helped strengthen Dubai’s vision, economy, communities and culture. He is a patron of many charitable organisations, and has won prestigious national and international accolades.

Sheikh Ahmed has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Denver, Colorado, USA. The Royal Aeronautical Society honoured his achievements in aviation with a fellowship at the 1994 Farnborough Air Show, UK. In May 2013, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from City University London – Cass Business School.


Professor Ahmad Al Ali – Vice Chancellor, Emirates Aviation University (EAU)

Professor Al Ali has been Vice-Chancellor, Emirates Aviation University (EAU) since 2008. He directs the strategy of the university, fostering partnerships and forging new ones within the industry and government, to maintain the university’s excellent reputation in teaching and research. He also makes sure the university is self-funded and achieves its goals.

The aviation programmes – both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the university have grown significantly under his leadership.

Professor Al Ali graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Master of Science in mathematics from the University of London, and subsequently obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in applied mathematics from City, University of London, UK.

He is a recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Associate Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its applications, and has served on numerous national bodies and committees, including as board member of the Dubai Statistics Center.

Previous roles include Assistant Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the Faculty of Science at the United Arab Emirates University, and has published several articles and papers in well-regarded journals of applied mathematics.


Steve Allen - CEO dnata

Steve Allen is responsible for all dnata’s businesses covering ground handling, catering and travel across six continents. In addition, he has responsibility for managing Emirates Group’s relationships with its associated businesses, including MMI, Emirates CAE Flight Training and Premier Inn.

Steve joined dnata in 2009 as Vice President Operations, where he was instrumental in the birth of the One dnata Strategy. He then moved to lead the Emirates Group Performance Development department in 2011 as Senior Vice President, and led a number of major change programmes.

In 2015, he was appointed Divisional Senior Vice President UAE Airport Operations and also began overseeing dnata Travel and its ongoing transformation from June 2020. Steve was appointed dnata’s global CEO  in March 2021.

Prior to joining dnata, Steve had 15 years of experience in British Airways in the UK and Middle East.


Amira Al Awadhi - VP HR Business Partner & National Development, Emirates Group

Amira Al Awadhi serves as Vice President Human Resources Business Partner & National Development for the Emirates Group. In her current role, Mrs. Al Awadhi is responsible for leading Flight Operations, Service Delivery, Engineering, Airport Services & IT human resources strategy. During her 20 years at Emirates Group, Amira Al Awadhi has worked closely with leaders across the organization to establish and manage an HR structure that reflects and supports their dynamic business needs.

Prior to her current role, Amira Al Awadhi was Vice President Human Resources National Recruitment & Development at Emirates Group where she has managed efforts that have resulted in the attraction, development, and retention of UAE nationals, overseen major initiatives across the Group as well as developed a strategy with external bodies to support the Groups Emiratisation strategy.

Mrs. Al Awadhi holds a Higher Diploma in Financial Services from Dubai Women’s College, Certificate in Personnel Practice from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom (CIPD), and Certificate for completion of “Leading to the future Leadership program for executives” conducted by Tommy Weir and Certificate of Global Business consortium program for the Executive Leadership program from London Business school.


Dr David Pilsbury - Vice President, University Partnerships, at Oxford International

He leads the development of new pathways and relationships at the rapidly growing global education provider.

As Deputy Vice-Chancellor, International, at Coventry University from 2008 to 2021, his ambitious agenda elevated Coventry University to the UK’s 3rd largest recruiter, delivering a six-fold increase in overseas students. He established the UK’s largest overseas collaborative delivery programme and created the world’s largest global enhancement programme, making Coventry the UK’s leading provider of mobility experiences for five years running.

Prior to this, David was founding CEO of the Worldwide Universities Network, Head of Research Policy for Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Assistant Director R&D at Cambridge University Hospital. He spent several years in strategic consultancy and investment banking after completing his DPhil and postdoctoral research at Oxford University.

He has won many awards including a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and the European Association for International Education’s (EAIE) premier award for Internationalisation. He holds numerous Board level and advisory positions including with JISC, China-Britain Business Council, THE Student, EURIE, NARIC and the Hainan Government.


Ahmed Safa – Divisional Senior Vice President Engineering – Emirates

Ahmed Safa is responsible for providing leadership, strategic direction, organisation and guidance to a large multinational, multicultural teams across all Engineering and Maintenance disciplines. His team includes Operational Departments, Technical Fleet Organisation, Lifecycle Asset Management, Engineering Training, Engineering Facilities and Engineering Procurement.

Ahmed Safa joined Emirates in 1991 as an engineer and rose up the ranks.

In 2006, he became Vice President and in 2007, he was appointed Senior Vice President, leading the front-end of engineering that supports the Dubai hub and outstations. Ahmed’s responsibilities expanded into Heavy Maintenance and Overhaul, and in 2016 he was asked to lead a broad number of sectors within Engineering, including supply chain, inventory management, design organisation, aircraft configuration, and engineering innovation among others.

He is the nominated post holder for CAMO – Continuous Airworthiness Management Organisation

Ahmed is a licensed aircraft engineer with a Master of Business Administration degree from Bradford University.


Dr Amer Sharif – Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Healthcare City Authority, Education Sector (DHCE)

Dr Sharif has over 14 years of senior management experience working with key UAE government healthcare authorities and academic institutions. He is also the Vice Chancellor of the Mohammed Bin Rashid University of Medicine and Health Sciences (MBRU).

Dr Sharif has been pivotal in steering MBRU since its inception and instrumental in raising the profile of MBRU through its academic programmes and affiliations. His desire and drive for excellence has established and strengthened collaborations with leading academic institutions locally and internationally.

Dr Sharif is a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Public Health, and has two more degrees: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, United Arab Emirates University. He obtained a Master of Science degree in healthcare management from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland.


Rick Ward – Senior Vice President Legal, Emirates Group

Rick Ward leads all legal support for Emirates, dnata, and their associated companies worldwide. He was in-house counsel for the Emirates Group from January 1998 to October 2001, and returned in 2007. He was appointed to his current role in February, 2012.

Rick worked in private practice with the law firm DLA Piper in Australia. As legal counsel for Deloitte, he was based in the regional Asia-Pacific office in Sydney and then in the global head office in New York.

Rick graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Laws (Hons) and a Bachelor of Arts (Hons). He also holds a graduate diploma in applied corporate governance and is a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia. Rick is qualified to practice law in Victoria, New South Wales and in New York.