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Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal opens UK facility on UAE air base

Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal has officially opened a permanent UK military facility on an air base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The Princess Royal toured the brand-new Headquarters, accommodation and welfare facilities at Al Minhad Air Base (AMAB) alongside the Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Support Operations), Air Vice-Marshal Pratley. They were accompanied by Sir Hobart, His Majesty’s Ambassador to the UAE, and Brigadier General Al Ketbi, AMAB Commander.

“I am delighted to attend the opening of Donnelly Lines, an essential part of the UK’s global footprint, and an example of our enduring presence overseas in what remains an uncertain world beset by turbulent times.

Our continued investment here is a further example of the UK’s commitment to the security of the region and is a tangible commitment to the work for peace, security, and stability, working hand in hand with our allies in the UAE.

The siting of Donnelly Lines at AMAB enables the UK to maintain our freedom of action and ability to conduct operations from the UAE, bolstering our operational resilience. It is of vital importance, and I recognise the hard work and stellar efforts of the team, who have, over several years, worked tirelessly around the clock to make this possible.”

Air Vice-Marshal Pratley
Project Senior Responsible Officer

A joint UAE Air Force Al Fursan and RAF A400M flypast honoured the opening ceremony which included a coalition parade and a commemoration to the late Sergeant Donnelly, whom the Lines are named after.

The Princess Royal then met with Sergeant Donnelly’s family and coalition personnel based at AMAB where Her Royal Highness signed the legacy Joint Force Support flag that proudly flew over the base’s former UK Headquarters.

Sergeant William 'Billy' Donnelly.

Donnelly Lines is named after Sergeant ‘Billy’ Donnelly, an RAF Navigator who died in February 1943 after his Vickers Wellington Bomber crash landed in Fujairah, 75 miles east of AMAB. In 2010, a memorial was erected at the crash site, and now in 2024, this expansive facility in his name symbolises the longstanding ties between the UK and the UAE and the continued commitment to strengthening that relationship.