A kaleidoscope of cultures came together to make history on a recent Emirates flight, as some 200 nationalities marked the 48th UAE National Day and the UAE Year of Tolerance.
South Africa also participated in the historic one-off Emirates A380 flight with over 540 passengers on board. On average an Emirates flight typically carries more than 50 nationalities on board - with the cabin crew making up 15 nationalities alone. Emirates currently employs over 1000 South African nationals across the airline.
His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline & Group says, “The UAE has become a remarkable symbol of tolerance and coexistence, welcoming people from over 200 nationalities and backgrounds, all living together in solidarity and harmony. It is in fact the diversity of the citizens and residents of the UAE that unite us and make us stronger through mutual respect and opening bridges of common dialogue, and today’s flight is a celebration of that spirit which is very much a part of our everyday lives here in the UAE.”
The flight welcomed passengers from different backgrounds, ethnicities, religions and cultures and included families and children, Emirates Group employees, as well as People of Determination. Over 30 000 people across the UAE registered interest to become part of this special initiative and to be onboard flight EK2019, for a special flight journey across all seven emirates. Passengers were encouraged to come in their national dress, and throughout the flight, their colourful costumes became a vibrant collage honouring their different heritages and traditions.
EK 2019 was commanded by UAE Nationals Captain Abbas Shaban and Captain Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum, and First Officer Karin Arning from Germany. The 22 cabin crew on flight EK 2019 hailed from 18 countries, and were led by flight purser Jafar Hamad, a UAE National.
After passengers checked in, they were welcomed by Emirates cabin crew and were invited to take keepsake photos to mark the special event. Passengers were also able to write their names and wishes for the Year of Tolerance on a special message wall. Before boarding, a bespoke stamp to mark this special flight was put on each boarding pass as an added keepsake for passengers.
Once onboard and ready for take-off, special Year of Tolerance content was available on ice for viewing by all passengers. Just before descent, an Official Adjudicator from Guiness World Record, who was onboard verifying nationality counts, officially announced a new Guiness World Record title for most nationalities on an aircraft.
On his part Talal Omar – Director MENA,Guiness World Records™ says, "It is inspiring to see all these people coming together to create an environment that celebrates diversity and understanding. Congratulations Emirates Airline, you are Officially Amazing."
As passengers disembarked, they were handed certificates of participation for taking part in this historic activity. A ceremony took place in front of the aircraft to mark the record, and a group photo with all 541 passengers was taken in front of the Emirates “Year of Tolerance” A380.
*Compiled by Selene Brophy
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