'You are number one or nothing': Watch throwback video of Sheikh Mohammed's vision for Emirates

The airline, which commenced operations in 1985, completed 38 years today


Nasreen Abdulla

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Published: Wed 25 Oct 2023, 5:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 25 Oct 2023, 11:19 PM

When Dubai launched Emirates Airlines, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai had a clear vision for it. For it to be a leader in the aviation industry.

In an old video shared by the Dubai Media Office on Wednesday on social media platform X, Sheikh Mohammed can be seen talking about his vision for the airline. “Emirates wants to be the best in the world. As easy as that. You are number one or you are nothing.”

This comes as the airline completes 38 years of operations on Wednesday, October 25. It has fulfilled Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision by being the world’s largest international airline in terms of passengers, flying to over 150 destinations across the world. It operates the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s and is at the forefront of luxurious flying.

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It was in 1984 that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, who was then the Minister of Defence, asked Sir Maurice Flanagan, the managing director of dnata, to look into starting an airline.

After a comprehensive study and business plan, Flanagan took up the ambitious mission to launching an airline in five months with seed funding of $10 million (Dh36.7 million).

On October 25, 1985, Emirates took off from Dubai International Airport with inaugural flights to Karachi and Mumbai, using a Boeing 737 and an Airbus 300 B4 which were leased from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

The rest, as they say, is history

Despite the slowdown in travel during the Covid pandemic, Emirates Airlines bounced back with passenger numbers touching new heights in the post-pandemic period. For the financial year that ended 31 March 2023, the Emirates Group posted a record profit of Dh10.9 billion ($3.0 billion) compared with an Dh3.8 billion ($1.0 billion) loss for last year.

At the time, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group had said: “I’m proud of our contribution to the restoration of air transport and tourism across the markets we serve, including Dubai’s astounding 97% year-on-year growth in international visitors for 2022. The Group is the biggest player in the UAE’s aviation sector, which supports over 770,000 jobs and generates an estimated contribution to GDP of over Dh172.5 billion ($47 billion)."


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