Long-haul airline Emirates kicked off the Dubai air show with a $52 billion purchase of Boeing Co. planes, a sign that the sector has recovered after the paralysis of the coronavirus pandemic, even as the war between Israel and Hamas clouded regional security.
That conflict, along with Russia’s war in Ukraine, was likely to loom large over the five-day fair at Al Maktoum airport in Dubai. It is the city-state’s second airfield, after Dubai International Airport, the busiest in the world for international travel and the base of the Emirates operator.
The company announced the acquisition to Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al Maktoum at a press conference on Monday afternoon.
Immediately after, its sister operator, the low-cost company FlyDubai, said it would buy 30 787-9 Dreamliner models, the first large aircraft in its fleet.
Although commercial aviation gets much of the show’s attention, weapons manufacturers also have exhibits at the show. Two major Israeli companies, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. and Israel Aerospace Industries, were scheduled to participate.
But the IAI booth, with the tagline “Where value meets technology,” was cordoned off and empty Monday morning as attendees arrived at the event. Rafael’s stand offered coffee, although there were no salespeople present. A request for comment to an attendant at the scene initially went unanswered.
Rafael was also sponsoring a meeting of air force commanders held Sunday at a luxury Dubai hotel, a reflection of the UAE’s tightrope walker role amid Arab world outrage over the war between Israel and Hamas.
The UAE, a federation of seven kingdoms, established diplomatic relations with Israel in 2020.