Emirates airline made history on Friday when it set a new record for the largest number of nationalities on a single flight.
The A380, with its one-off Year of Tolerance livery, took off from Dubai International Airport as part of celebrations marking this year’s UAE National Day.
The plane, carrying more than 500 passengers, flew over all seven emirates at low altitude, allowing those on the ground to watch the aircraft.
On board were Emirates residents from 145 different countries - a new and official Guinness World Record.
“I never knew there were so many nationalities here in the UAE but it’s been fantastic meeting so many new friends,” said Jean Luc Kalambay, 37, an aircraft loading supervisor from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“I’ve been impressed with the level of diversity. It’s also my first time on board an A380 so I’ve really been looking forward to it.”
Flight EK2019 took off from Dubai shortly after 12pm and was in the air for a little over an hour and a half.
Its striking livery depicted a line of people from different backgrounds and cultures, all holding hands in a show of solidarity.
Once airborne, the jet initially headed towards the coast of Umm Al Quwain, followed by Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah.
It then altered course to fly towards Al Ain and the coast of Abu Dhabi, before making its way to Sharjah corniche and Ajman. It later landed back in Dubai.
“The experience was pretty impressive and it was fantastic to be able to see all the emirates like that,” said Wing Hiyama, from Hong Kong.
“Usually when you go travelling you just want to get it over with but that was really enjoyable.”
Her husband, Eisuke, from Japan, added: “I didn’t know what to expect but that was truly something special."
UAE residents were invited to apply for a seat on the plane in the lead up to National Day, with officials hoping they could beat the then world record of 75 nationalities on board one flight.
For many passengers, it was a matter of huge pride to be selected to represent their home country.
“I am here to represent my country and it’s an honour,” said flight attendant Charlie Amegasse, 30, from Gabon.
“The UAE is renowned for accepting everybody regardless of their background or religion and today is a prime example of that.”
Many of those on board were wearing their national dress in order to highlight the diverse makeup of the passengers.
Abdy Mammayev, 33, from Turkmenistan, was getting plenty of attention for his Turkmen headdress.
“I am really happy to be here and to be part of it all,” he said. His wife, Joan D’Souza, 36, from Portugal, added: “It’s a fantastic opportunity”.
Adil Al Ghaith, senior vice president of Emirates’ commercial operations in the Gulf, Middle East and Central Asia, said the aircraft, along with its unique livery, would continue to fly its normal commercial routes.
“This very plane will continue to fly the routes associated with an A380,” he said. “The Year of Tolerance logo will stay on the side of the plane as well.
“You just have to look around today at all the people from different nationalities embracing each other after meeting for the first time to see what the Year of Tolerance means.”
Each passenger on the flight was presented with a certificate to mark being part of the successful world record attempt.
On average, Emirates carries more than 50 nationalities on any given flight across its network.
The airline has rolled out a host of special liveries this year with the Year of Tolerance the latest.
Last week, saw the special spacecraft theme take to the skies for the first time when the A380 flew to and from Melbourne.
The livery celebrates the UAE’s debut space mission, which saw Hazza Al Mansouri become the first Emirati astronaut in space. Other liveries this year have included the Rugby and Cricket world cups.
Emirates' special liveries