Emirates celebrates its 30th anniversary, serving for 30 years of service to Beirut. From Emirates’ first flight in 1991, the airline has flown more than 6 million passengers on nearly 35,000 flights between Dubai and Beirut, contributing to the country’s tourism industry, opening new trade routes, and advocating for Lebanon’s culture and traditions. After flying from Dubai to Beirut for the first time thirty years ago, Emirates is now flying 16 times a week between the two destinations.
In that initial trip, the Boeing 727 narrow-body jet with registration number A6-EMA flew. Due to its reputation as one of the loudest passenger aircraft, this jet no longer flies commercially. Even with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing travel demand, Emirates continues to fly from Lebanon over the past 20 years, from three flights per week back in the 1990s to 16 flights per week today.
The airline’s Regional Manager in the Levant, Tamador Dallal Kouatly, who has been with the airline in Lebanon since it started operations, reflects on the airline’s journey in Lebanon over the past 30 years said that “As Emirates has operated flights to Beirut for 30 years, the commitment to our clients has only gotten stronger. In order to connect Lebanon to the world, especially to the diaspora communities, we strive to provide the most comfortable onboard experience and hospitality, state-of-the-art technology for travel, and unparalleled connections to Dubai. In the key market of Lebanon, we are proud to celebrate three decades of serving the country, its communities, and its people. It will be our pleasure to serve the region in the future.”
The Emirates launch team, which included people part of the early days, describes how they are still involved with the airline following the first flight.
“My heart still beats louder than the engines the first time the aircraft parked, and we welcomed the first passengers in 1991”, says Raghida Zarkout, Emirates airport services officer in Beirut, who was part of the launch team.
The deputy airport service manager in Beirut said, “I vividly remember the pride I felt representing Emirates, the excitement for the journey ahead, and the sense of awe when the aircraft landed in our airport. All were feelings I still have to this day.”
As part of the celebration, Emirates will serve traditional Lebanese dishes along its route between Dubai and Beirut throughout the coming weeks. These include the Lamb Maklouba and the Barramundi Sayadieh. The signature dessert will complement the dishes with a strawberry Kunafa Fark and interpret the traditional Kunafa and Baklava Asht by the airlines, which is decorated with the Lebanese flag. Additionally, Middle Eastern appetizers with Lebanese influences are served on Emirates International First and Business Class menus, including hummus, tabbouleh, and mutable.
A double-decker superjumbo of the airline was launched in March 2018 at Rafik Hariri International Airport. Lebanese Airways and Beirut International Airport celebrated a historic moment with the arrival of the first Airbus A380 scheduled to arrive in the Lebanese capital. The Emirates-Lebanon relationship reached another milestone three years ago.
UAE and the Emirates Airline Foundation have supported the people of Lebanon since the devastating explosion in Beirut Port in August 2020 by donating cash and Skywards miles for space on cargo planes and the delivery of essential items. Through its work with local and international NGOs, the airline made over 12,000 donations in 140 countries/regions and successfully delivered over 160,000 kilograms of humanitarian cargo to Lebanon within one month.
Emirates uses the cargo capacities of its airliners to transport cargo between Beirut and Dubai to promote trade and connect Lebanese businesses with the world at large. UAE’s Emirates Sky Cargo has shipped 20,000 tons of fresh vegetables, fruit, and chocolate from Lebanon to major distribution centers in the GCC countries and Jordan. Over the past year, Emirates SkyCargo has transported more than 67,000 tons of cargo to and from Beirut.