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When Maurice Flanagan arrived in Dubai in 1978, the 49-year-old from northwest England already had 25 years of airline experience under his belt and the Gulf port had little or none. The young Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, now ruler, tapped him to create the links that would turn an entrepot town into today's skyscraper-strewn paean to commercialism.Flanagan, who has died aged 86, was the founding senior executive at Emirates, charting the airline's ascent to a global carrier that drives the city-state's development. Instead he joined BOAC, the long-haul precursor to British Airways, in a job that included postings to Thailand, Kenya, Peru, Iran and India. He moved to Dubai initially to run Dnata, a travel services and ground handling company that became part of Emirates after the airline began service in 1985 .The airline's success, in Flanagan's view, came from the government's commitment to airport infrastructure and the city's "perfect" geographical position, allowing most world cities to be linked via Dubai.
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