Emirates’ Clark sees “great opportunities” after Arab Spring

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Emirates Airline boss Tim Clark is convinced that the changes brought about by the Arab Spring across North Africa and the Middle East this year will ultimately lead to a better situation for the countries involved, and provide opportunities for airline growth.

The unrest began in Tunisia at the beginning of the year and spread to Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria, and in several cases has already seen regimes being overthrown. While this has had a short-term impact on business, Clark said that the Dubai-based carrier "dealt with that", and is now optimistic for the future.

"I'm a great opportunist and a great believer that the change will deliver good," Clark said. "Libya, if it's done properly post-Gaddafi, will be a huge opportunity for everybody, so is Tunisia. I believe the Egyptians will get their act together, but they're all going to need help."

afriqiyah a300
 © Libyan Youth Movement
Burnt out Afriqiyah A300 at Tripoli Airport

Clark said that since the overthrow of the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia, Emirates has enjoyed a boom in business from the country. "It was extraordinary: as soon as that government went, our flights filled up," he added.

Clark said that in the wake of the fall of Ben Ali, all the "quality exiles" - professionals, industrialists and entrepreneurs - who left the country in the Ben Ali era have been invited back.

"The government is populating their key positions with technocrats and professional classes who are trying to do the right thing for the Tunisian economy. Eventually you'll see this elsewhere, so there are going to be great opportunities there, definitely," he added.