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Kukës International Airport is named after the Founder Sheikh Zayed

Kukës International Airport is named after the Founder Sheikh Zayed

 

The revamped Kukes International Airport Zayed welcomed its first flight on 18th of April with the country's Prime Minister Edi Rama onboard.

 

An Air Albania aircraft flew in from the capital Tirana, 150 kilometres away, to the airport that has been revitalised with the UAE's help.

 

Kukes, in north-east Albania, first opened in the 1920s but had been chiefly used for military and emergency use.

 

The UAE established an aid camp there during the Kosovo conflict in the late 1990s, to assist refugees who were streaming into Albania.

 

Emirati businessman Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties, shared pictures of a display dedicated to Sheikh Zayed and the UAE in the terminal.

 

"Our relations with Albania go back to 1998 when Sheikh Zayed, may his soul rest in peace, sent humanitarian relief to those affected by the Kosovo war, built camps and provided educational and medical aid," Mr Alabbar wrote on Twitter.

 

The UAE involvement in Kosovo was a humanitarian mission. When the former Yugoslavia broke up in the 1990s, separatist voices grew louder in Kosovo. Serbia responded by attacking the territory's ethnic Albanian population, creating a refugee crisis.

 

Almost 1,500 Emirati troops would serve in Kosovo over two operations. One was with the Nato-led Kfor peacekeeping force, from the spring of 1999 to late 2001.

 

The other operation was the White Hands aid mission near Kukes, between March and June 1999.

 

In the years after the war, UAE investment was central to the airport's redevelopment, which included a new terminal, a control tower and expansion of the apron and runway.

 

The naming of the airport after Sheikh Zayed pays tribute to that story.

 

Kukes International Airport Zayed is designed to serve as Albania's second airport, after Tirana International Airport, and boost tourism in the region.

International Media Reports