UAE Portrait of a Nation: The pilot who is also flying high online

Yousuf Al Shamsi flies the largest passenger airliner in the world for a living but is also becoming a YouTube hit with his informative destination guides.

Emirati pilot Yousuf Al Shamsi also posts city guides online. Antonie Robertson / The National
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

DUBAI // As if being a highly skilled pilot on the largest airliner in the world was not enough, Yousuf Al Shamsi is also taking off on the internet with his YouTube city guides.

The Airbus A380 pilot's online show, Around the World, has been viewed thousands of times by people who like his entertaining and informative guides.

So far, he has produced city guides for San Francisco, New York, Washington, Brisbane, Auckland, London, San Diego, Singapore, Istanbul, Athens, Sydney and Seoul.

“I hope to be doing more in the future. It allows me to combine both of my passions, for media and aviation,” he said.

Mr Al Shamsi started out as a child reporter for Dubai TV and, until recently, hosted his own game show on the channel.

But he always wanted to fly and now he has managed to find a way to combine both. “The wonder of aviation is the reason why I always wanted to fly.”

Jets puncturing the clouds and their vapour trails always fascinated the young Yousuf.

“I was always packed and ready to fly, hours before our flight,” he said, recalling his family holidays.

Flying the world’s largest passenger airliner, which can accommodate more than 500 passengers, was Mr Al Shamsi’s ultimate dream and he is grateful to have realised his dream and to have done it with Emirates airline, a company that he believes “continues to innovate with its services while others are cutting back”.

“I joined Emirates shortly after high school. I went abroad to train in Australia. So many courses, several aircraft and now I’m flying the A380.

“I had to go to Australia for my initial training but, starting from October, new recruits can now do it from here. It’s gotten a lot easier to pursue a career in aviation.”

Mr Al Shamsi encourages more Emiratis to pursue an aviation career, especially with a new flight training academy opening in October.

To address the Middle East and Gulf’s air travel needs, Emirates Flight Training Academy will offer cadet pilots the chance to receive, for the first time, all their training in Dubai.

Mr Al Shamsi, meanwhile, has been to so many places that he has lost count.

“I hope to one day fly to all of Emirates’ 150 destinations.”

But he has fond memories of his first flight as a pilot.

“It was to Istanbul. It was a surreal experience, that I had made it, and it was a new perspective seeing the airport from that other side of the plane for the first time.”

His most emotional experience was having his family on board a flight.

While he may now have a taxing international schedule he would not have it any other way, says the high-flying YouTube phenomenon.

Mr Al Shamsi is one of 95 Emiratis flying the A380 fleet on Emirates.