Middle East journey

In my job, I’m fortunate to be able to visit far-flung regions and to meet with people from all over the world.

But I’d hardly say I’ve been everywhere, and recently I had the chance to visit two key cities I’d never been to before - Cairo and Beirut.

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I did manage a little sightseeing while in Cairo.

What always intrigues me as I travel is the quality and variety of questions I’m asked by journalists in various countries. My visits to Egypt and Lebanon were no exceptions.

Clearly, the journalists in these important markets are aware of the great potential for growth there.

As you’d expect, I did get asked my view on the aviation outlook.

Boeing has a long history in the region, and we expect to continue our partnership with Middle East carriers for many years to come. Of course, no particular region is immune to the impact of the current world economic slowdown.

But as I noted, the Middle East has enjoyed unprecedented double-digit air traffic growth over the past 5 years, and we expect that growth to continue at an average 5.5% rate annually over the next 20 years.

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Briefing reporters in Beirut.

The growth rate in the Middle East represents a market of about 1,580 airplanes valued at $260 billion. Clearly this is why you’ve seen Boeing (and Airbus) focus a lot of energy in this region, and it underscores why Boeing has developed and implemented a long-term strategy to be the preferred airplane manufacturer.

Based on recent sales and dollar value, Boeing splits the commercial airplanes market nearly evenly with our competitor - mostly due to the success of the 777 as the preferred widebody airplane in the Middle East. That’s a trend we expect to see continue with the introduction of the 787 Dreamliner – an airplane we think is the perfect complement to our customers’ 777 fleets.

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Along the Beirut waterfront.

As I mentioned, this was my first visit to Cairo and to Beirut - two wonderful cities with a rich history and a promising future. It was a pleasure to experience some heartfelt hospitality and an eagerness on the part of people in these cities to share their culture and heritage with a visitor such as myself, and – on the advice of nearly everyone I spoke to both in Cairo and Beirut – I made sure to sample some amazing Lebanese cuisine.

The fattet we had at the Abdel Wahab Restaurant in Beirut was delicious. It’s made there with grilled eggplant in rich garlic yogurt sauce.

I truly enjoyed the dish, and it made me think of an old New York saying that goes something along the lines of “a nickel will get you on the subway, but garlic will get you a seat.”

Comments (5)

Norman (Long Beach, California, United States):

Sounds like you had a great time, wish I was there!

The Middle East has been a boon for Boeing aircraft for almost ten years previously breaking the almost ironclad grip that Airbus had in the Middle East prior to the introduction of the 777-300ER and the 787.

EgyptAir I think stands to benefit from the 787-9 to succeed the A330-200 and the model 10 can serve in the European sector, the Persian Gulf and South and East Asia. MEA of Lebanon has no Boeing aircraft but MEA can benefit from the 737NG and the 787 to serve Western Europe, Asia and New York.

Kinbin (Taipei Taiwan):

I see that the sights that accompanied the trip remain astounding. Best to get to see them soon. With acid rain, global warming, rising sea-levels, and human conflict, there will come a time in the not-so-distant future when these sights are a bygone image of the mind, refreshed and reminded by computer renditions.

BTW, kudos to you for keeping your shape despite being flung into the far corners of the big-blue marble, and sampling such 'rich' foods. Working out must be an innovate challenge.

Jamal (Wichita, Kansas, USA):

As a Lebanese American, it brings me some pleasure to see Boeing involved in this part of the world. I hope you liked those two huge rocks behind you in that picture along the Beirut waterfront. That scene is very beautiful at night since they added some light that shine on those two rocks.

P (Amman, Jordan):

I must say that I'm happy that you fell in love with our Arabic cuisine (it's not just Lebanese you know!). A small note: The "T" in Fatteh is silent, but Fatté or Fatteh are more accurate with regards to spelling.

I hope you sample the Middle East once more in the near future!

Paul (Sydney, Australia):

The best food in the Middle East is Lebanese cuisine by far...despite some commonality accross the region, Lebanese food, hospitality, nighlife and scenery is the best in the entire Middle East.

MEA was hoping to look at a 787's or A350's I think they will go Airbus as it makes sense seeing they have A320's and A330's now...maintainence, training and commonality is a no brainer for a small boutique carrier such as MEA.

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