Dubai Life

10 Questions with an Emirates Pilot

A little inside from the perspective of an expat in Dubai...

Tamilla Dowse Tamilla Dowse

10 Questions with an Emirates Pilot
We all know Emirates is one of the most luxurious airlines out there; praised for their hospitality, innovation and modernity. Whether you’ve had the chance to fly with them at some point, their reputation continues to proceed them, so Secret Dubai decided to get an exclusive interview with Markku Jaatinen, a pilot with over a decade of experience flying for the company. The purpose was to give a little inside into life as a foreigner in Dubai, how the city has evolved over the past 10 years and a taste of what can expect from a career in Emirates.

What year did you join emirates/how old were you?

2006, I was 43 at the time.

What were you doing beforehand?

I was a fighter pilot and instructor and a flight commander in the Finnish Air Force and then an airline pilot and instructor at Scandinavian Airlines.

Name the 3 biggest culture shocks you experienced when you moved here?

The summer heat took some time to adjust to (I joined in August). At that time the afternoon traffic towards Sharjah was often jammed (Many of the current bridges over Dubai Creek had not been built yet). This took some getting used to as well. Luckily, the situation improved quickly with the introduction of more roads and bridges as well as the Dubai Metro. You still have to plan your movements a little bit if you can to avoid the rush like in any major city.  Not really a culture shock, actually the opposite, but it keeps amazing me how so many people from so many different cultures get along so well.

How has Dubai evolved over the past 10 years?

The city has kept growing and where you would see sand or construction earlier is often nowadays a mature and beautiful community. 

How has your life been affected by Dubai/Emirati culture?

I come from a population wise small nation myself and I admire the way our hosts here are managing their growth plan with such a big expat population. It’s been a fascinating journey to learn to understand this culture with the help of friends and colleagues and I have been in a position to pass some of this learning on in my role as an instructor to new colleagues. 

Have you got any funny stories since working at Emirates?

It happens time to time that one of the crew members is having a birthday while on a flight. When the others then take initiative to put together a little surprise it can be a lot of spontaneous fun, for example on the bus to the hotel on a layover.

Who are the 3 most famous people who’ve been on one of your flights?

I have carried previous prime ministers, Hollywood stars and World Tour tennis players. Some of them between Dubai and Los Angeles and typically in conjunction with some of the high profile events in Dubai and the UAE like the Dubai Tennis Championships of the F1 Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Dubai?
We eat out quite a lot and Dubai has very nice movie theaters as well. Dubai Opera brings in very classy performances throughout the year. I really enjoy walking and jogging on Jumeirah beach in the morning and the golf courses here are magnificent.
As a Finn how do you cope for years with the extreme hot summers? What’re your tips to getting through it?

You do get used to the heat. It helps not to drop your outdoor activities altogether. Don’t give up your walks or jogging and utilize the cooler times of the day to stay active outdoors. Swimming is a nice way of staying outside for some exercise as well as most lap pools are cooled in the summertime.

Favourite part of the city & why?
I’ve just recently moved to Palm Jumeirah and the Ittihad Park plus the beach nearby are really nice. I also really like the tranquility and beauty of Jumeirah Beach early in the morning.