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The Flight of the bees

The EgyptAir Cargo lands its first passengers at RAK – 60 million bees.

On 17th Oct 2016, the Ras Al Khaimah International Airport saw its first EgyptAir Cargo touchdown with around 60 million of delicate honey bees destined for farms across the UAE. With over 1,800 tons of honey being exported from UAE on an annual basis, the honey production industry has seen a huge upheaval in the last five years.

His Excellency, Engr. Sheikh Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, the Chairman of Ras Al Khaimah International Airport and Department of Civil Aviation was present to welcome the inaugural flight. His Excellency stated, “RAK Airport is ideally positioned to handle this precious cargo and we are grateful to EgyptAir Cargo and Al Najeh Honey & Bees Trading to give us the opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities in this regard.  We also appreciate all the support provided by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, RAK Customs and other authorities.”

His Excellency expressed his gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council of the UAE and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, for his continued support to the RAK Airport.

The bees are part of a re-stocking exercise that takes place regularly, and have to be handled with great care. Mohammed Al Najeh, who runs the operation and heads Najeh Honey and Bees Trading, explained that the entire exercise of getting the bees from Egypt and handing them over at Ras Al Khaimah has to run like clockwork to avoid disasters. The flight timing is chosen so that the bees arrive after the fierce midday heat and are met immediately by the 30 customers who pick them up and head back to the farms. Inside the aircraft the temperature is set to 15 degrees Celsius in order to offset the high temperatures created by the mass of bees.

In fact, Philip McCabe, President of Apimondia, the world beekeeping federation, was so impressed by Najeh’s cutting edge technology and operations that he flew down to UAE to learn more about the process. McCabe also met with His Excellency

Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who have been supporting the UAE’s honey industry.

RAK Airport Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Mohammed Qazi, commented, “We have been planning this operation for many months and our goal is simply to become the leader in the industry to deliver complete operational excellence for handling live bees.  Our infrastructure is best suited for such operations and we will ensure we continue to improve and surpass our already established high standards.  We believe what Mr. Al Najeh is doing for the industry is quite revolutionary, and we are pleased to be part of his high ambitions.  UAE could become a regional leader in bee farming and organic honey production, and we believe RAK Airport could play a crucial part in that process.”

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