Emirates + Qantas

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 31 March 2013

It has been described as a game changing deal in the aviation world. As Qantas Airways’ 17-year revenue sharing agreement ends with British Airways, a new chapter begins right here in Dubai.

Noni Edwards has the story.

High in the skies over Sydney,  a Qantas A380 pilot talks to his Emirates colleague as they stage a daring double flyover.
It’s symbolic of the spirit of cooperation between the two airlines, that’s being celebrated today is thought to be the first time anywhere in the world that two commercial A380s have been flown in formation.

Emirates’ president Tim Clark was overwhelmed by the occasion, “It made me immensely proud and convinced me that what we have done is absolutely the right thing for both Qantas and Emirates.”

There was no mistaking just how big a deal this is for the Australian carrier either.
“This is one of the most important days in Qantas’ 92 years history, said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, “Our partnership with Emirates is probably the biggest partnership deal that Qantas will ever do. It’s certainly one of the most important strategic initiatives that we’ll ever do.”

Analysts have suggested the alliance could save the Australian airline up to A$ 100 million a year. Qantas has already reported a six-fold increase in bookings for flights to Europe over the past nine weeks, in the lead-up to today’s launch.

And the sheer grandeur of today’s occasion was not lost, even on an industry stalwart.

flyover“For somebody as old as me, who’s been in this business for as long as I have,” Clark said, “I still got goose pimples watching those two magnificent airplanes flying so low and flying so well, with huge amounts of training having gone into  that 20 minutes of flying from our flight crews and flight operation departments.”

The pilots reportedly practised by flying the route dozens of times in sophisticated flight simulators.

Qantas pilots have also been putting in the hours preparing for their new destination, with a simulator designed specifically for Dubai, ready for tonight’s first-ever scheduled flight, currently en route and expected to land here just after midnight.

Customer service staff have also been training together, learning about the similarities and differences between Skywards and the Qantas Frequently Flyer program, treating each other’s customers as their own with the aim of giving everyone a seamless experience.

flyover2The powerful alliance has great potential to shake up the global aviation business. It represents the joining of forces of two of the world’s top twenty airlines – Emirates ranked at number 8 and Qantas at 15, according to Skytrax.

Because of the extraordinary market share the two will be working to achieve, the deal needed approval not only from Australia’s competition regulator, but Singapore’s as well. Qantas flights to and through Changi International have been largely “restructured” as Emirates codesharing comes into play and Dubai becomes its new hub for all sectors to Europe.

But there aren’t many complaints Down Under. Australians travelling to Europe via Dubai on either airline, can now get there more than two hours quicker, on average.

Antarctic Explorers

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 29 March 2013

antarcticaFour UAE explorers have just returned from a trip to Antarctica where they took part in an international campaign to raise awareness of the frozen continent, as Noni Edwards reports.

The 2041 International Antarctic Expeditions are part of an international movement to highlight the effects of global warming and ensure the continued protection of Antarctica from mining and exploitation beyond 2041, when the current international agreement ends.

The UAE contingent are all employees of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, who have sponsored their challenging mission and will no doubt also reap the rewards of their experience.

Majed Al Hamli, one of the UAE explorers says the biggest benefit was team-building.

“We had to go through a hike up mountains and go through glaciers and crevasses and for us that was the most added value of the expedition itself.”

On their journey they experienced the wildlife of the frozen continent, they learnt about the importance of a sustainable lifestyle in preserving natural resources and the role of renewable energy in balancing the ecosystem.

As well as developing environmental knowledge and awareness of sustainable practices, the expedition is designed to develop personal and leadership skills.

Going on this expedition it was a great experience for all of us. It taught us more about team building, then leadership and sustainability which are the two main antarctica2parts of expedition itself.”

Having now returned from the frozen continent the four explorers will now have to work out how to apply their new survival skills  back home in the corporate jungle.

Earth Hour 2013: In Dubai and around the world

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 24 March 2013


Last night, the UAE joined the rest of the world, in celebrating Earth Hour. As the clock struck 8:30pm across Dubai, the city was plunged into darkness, as people switched off their lights. 

DEWA says the emirate saved 200,000 kilowatt hours in the act, and 120 tonnes of carbon emissions, but the effects are hoped to reach further than mere numbers. Noni Edwards reports.

The symbolic act of switching off all unnecessary lights and electrical appliances for one hour is designed to act as a reminder of each person’s role in creating a more sustainable planet.

It was a chance for people the world-over to unite against climate change by increasing their own awareness of energy efficiency.

earthhour2Iconic landmarks in the UAE dimmed their lights during the hour including the world’s tallest man-made structure, the Burj Khalifa.
The Emirates Wildlife Society helped coordinate Earth Hour in the UAE, in coordination with the Worldwide Fund for Nature.

They campaigned for local participation in this global environmental call to action.

This year, there were many public and community events organised across the UAE for Earth Hour.

Government office buildings and businesses also joined the event across all seven emirates with more than 1 million people participating.

Around the world, cities joined in as their local time reached half-past-eight.

In the Russian capital Moscow, landmarks including the Moscow State University, Red Square and the Kremlin, all turned off their lights for an hour.

Likewise on the streets of Sao Paulo in Brazil, where their Teatro Municipal went into an hour’s blackout.

In Singapore, the skyscrapers in Central Business District all went dark at around 8:30 local time and more than 2,000 volunteers at Marina Bay danced on energy-absorbing pads to convert kinetic energy into electricity to power the outdoor screening of an environment-themed film.

In the Turkish city of Istanbul, the lights on the Hagia Sophia Church were turned off too, as well as those lighting up their Bosphorus Bridge.

The Earth Hour project began in 2007 and runs each year on the last Saturday of March.


Extended Interview: Dubai International Marine Club

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 6 March 2013

Day Two of the Dubai International Boat Show and here is my extended interview with Saeed Hareb, from the Dubai International Marine Club.

He starts by explaining how important the boat show is to the regional marine industry.

Healthy market in luxury yachts

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 5 March, 2013

The Dubai International Boat Show opened today at Mina Seyahi, for its 21st year. It has all the luxury and technology the premier regional event is famed for, but as Noni Edwards reports, there’s also a new focus on the local marine industry.

If sales figures of luxury yachts are a barometer for the health of the economy overall, then it’s plain sailing ahead.

Boat sales in the UAE maritime market grew 40 per cent last year on figures from the year earlier and according to Saeed Hareb, CEO of the Dubai International Marine Club,  the year ahead will continue to be about giving the customer exactly what they want.

“This year I can say it’s quality, not quantity,” explains Saeed Hareb.

One of the main aims of this year’s Dubai International Boat Show is to showcase the UAE’s growing capacity as a boat manufacturing hub, and put local operators in the international spotlight, like Mohammed Hareb, the president of Al Hareb Marine.

“It’s just an honour just to be over here and that’s what we’re aiming for, we’re not here to sell,” says Mohammed Hareb. “We are here to exhibit the quality and level of craftmanship we’ve reached over the past years in boat manufacture.”

But many are here to sell and great efforts were still being made even on the morning of the official launch, to get everything ship-shape.

“Everybody comes to this boat show, the whole GCC from Kuwait, from Bahrain we meet lots of high-end users from ministers to sheikhs, everybody waits for this boat show,” says Mohammed Hareb.

Event organisers have capitalised on this anticipation and for the first time, have included a ‘Made in the UAE’ section, giving local operators around 50 per cent of the total exhibition space at this year’s event.

“It means a lot for us in the UAE for us and Dubai especially to make the Boat Show a hub internationally, linked with Europe, with Asia, America and Africa,” says Saeed Hareb, “to see the Dubai Boat Show today as one of the biggest boat shows and definitely we are looking forward to expanding, making it bigger and bigger. ”

As sponsors of “Made in the UAE”, Dubai Chamber hopes it gives the newer local entrants the kind of exposure they need to copy the success of the more established manufacturers in the UAE.

“This has always been a platform to move from the local to the international market and moving, with a product made in Dubai, or made in the UAE, to the international market you’re not promoting the product, you’re promoting the country itself and that’s what everybody wants, as a government, as a businessman, you’re trying to show everybody what is Dubai, what is the UAE, what are we capable of in this small region,” explains Mohammed Hareb.

It’s not just for industry representatives, the Boat Show is just as much tailored to the amateur enthusiast, pleasure-seeker, watersports afficionado and even those of us for whom all this is only the stuff dreams are made of.

There is something for everyone.

Monster cranes invade London

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 2 March 2013

Dubai has been breaking records again, but this time, 5,500 kilometres away, in London.  Yes, the largest cranes ever built have sailed all the way from Shanghai to DP World’s newest port – the London Gateway. They’ve just arrived and will be a spectular addition to the English capital’s skyline, as Noni Edwards reports.

They’ve been dubbed giant cranes, monster cranes, mega-cranes and how else would you describe the biggest cranes ever built?

Taller than the London Eye, they almost challenge logic, being sailed into British waters.

The engineering rationale for their sheer size is simple. According to Andrew Bowen,  the engineering director for Dubai Ports’ London Gateway, as container ships get bigger, so must the cranes that are required to load and unload their cargo.

“These cranes are very important, they are the largest cranes ever built in the world and they are here to unload the ships, which are then delivering the products into our container stacks, and then onto trucks and out into the consumer market,” he says.

Worth USD 10 million and weighing 2,000 tonnes each, they’ve come from China on board the Zhen Hua 26. These three cranes form the first shipment of 24, destined for the Thames Estuary, 20 miles from the capital, for the multi-billion dollar deep-sea port project.

London Gateway’s CEO is proud to be bringing their port “back home”, where Simon Moore says it should be.

“It’s a deep sea hub port to serve the whole of the UK, it is also Europe’s biggest logistics park. Zero cost to the UK tax payer, this is 100 per cent private investment by DP World,” says Moore.

The port is being built on new land in the county of Essex, using 27 million cubic meters of sand and gravel taken from the river, which is enough to fill the city’s Olympic Stadium 65-times over.

The delivery of the cranes marks a significant milestone for London’s new port.

“This is very important, we’ve got the quay behind us which is built and now we have the equipment which we can offload from the vessel, then start our commissioning and training programme to enable us to open in the later part of this year,” Bowen explains.

With this project, the port’s management are hoping to achieve nothing less than restoring London’s status as a premier center of global trade.

“London Gateway is a massive infrastructure project in the UK,” says Moore. “It is the biggest job creation project in the UK. 36,000 new jobs here, we are very very big, we are 3 times the City of London”

Once complete and at running at maximum efficiency, the 2.5 kilometre port will be processing around 3.5 million containers of freight each year and will be able to accommodate ships that are nearly half a kilometre long.