US aerospace giant Boeing said Saturday it holds nearly 40 percent of the lucrative sales market in the Middle East and aims to increase its share. "Today we probably have close to 40 percent" of the Middle East market, compared with 60 percent for European competitor Airbus, said Marty Bentrott, a regional sales chief for Boeing. Boeing lagged behind in the region for several years because it had not "realised that this part of the world" could play a key role in the aerospace industry, Bentrott said. "We went through a period of time ... being less competitive than we needed to be and we lost some opportunities," he told a press conference ahead of Sunday's opening of the Dubai Airshow. Bentrott also said that while Boeing holds just under 30 percent of the market in medium-haul planes, it was in a "much stronger position" than Airbus in the long-haul sector where it held around 60 percent. He said Boeing is now "focused" on the region, where experts say the rise in air traffic will be greater than anywhere else in the world over the next 20 years, expecting 7.1 percent compared with 4.7 percent elsewhere. In Dubai, Boeing will present two versions of the 777-X, updated versions of its bestselling 777. "You are going to see some real success stories with the 777-X," Bentrott said. The 13th edition of the Dubai Airshow runs until Thursday.