It’s a global airline with longhaul service around the world. But one of Emirates’ most lucrative routes is right in its own backyard, a journey of only 543 miles.
Picture a “business route” and you think of New York to Washington or Frankfurt to Brussels or Sydney to Melbourne. But imagine a Sunday morning in Dubai Terminal 3. Men in suits waiting to board EK819, one of four daily services from Dubai to Riyadh, the capital city of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Many consultants work in “Saudi” (as they call it) during the week, but retreat to the more liberal Dubai on weekends, returning to their families and actually what they consider home. Why? Where else in the Middle East can you drink alcohol openly or mix freely with men and women? Plus, the taxes are very low. Even as Saudi Arabia liberalizes under Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman (MBS), many still view the Kingdom as too restrictive.
At the same time, the economy is not growing in the United Arab Emirates like it used to, growing at only 1.9% last year. That has forced people to look beyond for work and firms in Saudi Arabia have been hiring.
On Sunday mornings to Riyadh and Thursday afternoons back to Dubai, fares are often more expensive than flying to London. Business and first class seats fill up months in advance and Emirates is even using its massive A380 on the route.
Per Bloomberg, Saudi Arabia contributes 60% of the revenue Emirates generates on its Middle East routes.
But all of this has raised the ire of some rulers in Saudi Arabia, who desperately want to diversify the oil-dependent economy and train up a domestic workforce rather than rely upon foreign help. In fact, a recent Saudi royal decree requires companies to prioritize Saudi workers, hiring only foreign consultants when a “dire need” exists.
For now, that still leaves plenty of wiggle room and room for Emirates to capitalize on one of its most lucrative routes.
“ Where else in the Middle East can you drink alcohol openly or mix freely with men and women?”
Uhhh how about Beirut which is much more liberal than Dubai if you want to compare where and how you can drink alcohol and mix with women
Ok, I love Beirut very much, but talk about stability…I think Dubai, with all its repressions, still comes out ahead.
Amman, Tel Aviv, Manama, Cairo, Muscat…
Fair enough but your article had no mention of stability… either way you can’t really have a drink in Dubai unless it’s connected to some hotel or special zone. Not the bastion of liberal policies…
Saudis are our best friends. They have money and we ( republicans) are prostitutes.
We sell our morals for money. Funny how evangelicals think anyone gives a crap of what they have to say about morality. They are a cult. Just like mafia or ms-13. The ones inside see no wrong. The ones outside think they are the most evil people and must be destroyed.
Democrats and liberals are the ones who want Arabs like Saudi’s immigrating to the U.S. and welcomed with open arms. There is a big difference between wanting your country flooded with non westerners and having an alliance for military strategic purposes where they stay 6000 miles away and keep other middle eastern belligerents like Iran in check. I agree, it would be nice if we didn’t have to deal with these people and pushed for more oil production at home (although in 30 years with renewables that will be moot) but that is the reality. Oman and Jordan are some of the nicest and safest countries in the world because they keep the riff raff out like we should.
Wrong! Prostitutes have better morals.
Yes Jackson. I have wondered if Democrat leaders do any self reflection why Republican voters are so virulently pro republicans. Can some of them meet Democrats half way. Unfortunately most Democrats think all Republicans are lost to republican policies and brain washing. We really need cross talk between people.
Also Tim Clark is retiring.
Yes, this was revealed after I wrote my story.
Read the piece in the New Yorker to see just how little genuine liberalisation is going on there. MBS walks away from the Kashoggi murder with impunity, courtesy in part of the unusually vile and repulsive Kushner creature. Good luck to those able to escape the God-forsaken , miserable dump for their weekends in Dubai.
You are completely correct. The US lives in a total la-la-land with Saudi Arabia. Even commenters above talking about how the US needs to ally with Saudi Arabia to “keep other middle eastern belligerents like Iran in check”. What a farce! Saudi gives billions of dollars to terrorist forces across the Middle East. 15/19 9/11 attackers were Saudi. Is no one seeing a pattern here!
Even bloggers like Matthew (who I have great respect for and I suspect is guilty of this somewhat unwittingly), discuss Saudi Arabia like it’s a normal country. It’s not. It’s one of the most (read: the most) repressive countries in the world. And yet if you ask the US gov, everything under the sun is someone else’s fault.
It’s not a la-la-land, but what’s the alternative? We certainly don’t want another Syria that was extremely safer and relatively peaceful for many years before the U.S. government stirred it up. We don’t need another Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Tunisia. Hong Kong and Chile aren’t looking too good now. In the U.S. there is a war on drugs with the belief that people don’t have a right to decide for their own bodies (dot wants riding bicycles without a helmet to be a crime just like seat belts, again, ones own body ) in Europe, free speech is a crime, in all the west there are a few groups that commit a disproportionately high amount of violence and turn places like Rio, parts of Chicago, the Bronx, South Africa and parts of Paris into dangerous places. Europe faces a crisis of dangerous youth migrants. Let the Saudi’s do their thing, don’t give student visas or tourist visas to poor Saudi’s (let the royals spend their money in the U.S.) instead of harassing citizens and legitimate tourists at customs, with TSA and spying through the PA.
While leisure is an important part of this route’s profitability, a more important factor is that these two cities are the Middle East’s most important financial/business hubs. Business travelers bring in a lot more revenue than leisure travelers.
Murdering journalists is liberalization?
Is it just my computer or happens to everyone too that the font is really blurry and hard to read?
Other sites look okay on my screen.