I recently had the pleasure of meeting with Sheikh Majid Al Mualla, Divisional Senior Vice President of International Affairs at Emirates, during the A380 Premium Economy launch. Sheikh Majid has been following me for quite some time; during the tour of the cabin, he asked me whether I had met with His Highness, Sheikh Ahmed, the Chairman and CEO of Emirates?
“No I haven't.”
“Ok. Leave that to me, I will try to arrange a meeting” Sheikh Majid said.
Then the next day, I received a text massage from Sheikh Majid.
“Your meeting with HH is confirmed at 11:30 on Thursday.”
I was shocked and in awe. I called upon my friend Gerome Gardiner (@Airlinerart) to go together. Gerome decides to present his "Fleet of Emirates" painting to Sheikh Ahmed.
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum is president of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, also he is the CEO and founder of the Emirates Group. He has been called "the man who put Dubai on the global aviation map". Literally anyone in aviation knows who Sheikh Ahmed is.
The PA for Sheikh Majid called me to make the arrangements, she also arranged for VIP car parking for me. I parked my car next to H.H. Sheikh Ahmed's car, at the Emirates Headquarter. It was amazing.
We waited for a little while at Sheikh Majid's office; we were informed that His Highness was very busy, as you can imagine, and his meeting that morning, with the President of Emirates, Sir Tim Clark, DNATA CEO Gary Chapman and Le Meridien Hotel CEO, had overran.
We finally met with His Highness Sheikh Ahmed. He was constantly smiling and was so down to the earth. He really took his time to chat with everyone in the meeting.
Please note below is not an interview but simply a recount of my experience in meeting with HH Sheikh Ahmed.
I asked him how did he get started in aviation and also whether aviation is his passion?
He said that when he started in 1985 he was sharing an office with 2 other managers, including Sir Maurice Flanagan. He learned everything about aviation quickly. The fledgling airline received $10 million in start-up capital and repaid this the following year, marking its immediate success.
When I asked him about his passion in aviation. His Highness said he was more interested in flying helicopters. He flew a Bell Long Ranger helicopter with his Austrian instructor. He also did 20 hours fixed wing airplane.
When asked whether at that time he would like to become a pilot he said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, ruler of the Emirate of Dubai, appointed him as the Chairman and CEO of Emirates Airline, so he couldn't join as a pilot.
We exchanged more on current affairs in aviation and in general how aviation is recovering in Dubai, perhaps faster than other countries and continents.
I asked HH whether he would've imagined what Dubai and Emirates would grow to become.
"No, but overtime Dubai grew together with Emirates and Emirates grew together with Dubai."H.H. Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum
It was clearly a day to remember and definitely one of the highlights in my aviation life.