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UK Opens Permanent Military Site in Al Minhad, UAE

The UK has opened a permanent military center, the Donnelly Lines, at the Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE.

Facilities at the site include a headquarters, accommodation hub, and welfare spaces to support Royal Air Force warfighters stationed in the country.

The opening ceremony, led by the British Princess Royal, included a joint flyby salute from the UAE Air Force Al Fursan aerobatics display team in MB-339 light combat jet and London’s A400M Atlas military transport aircraft.

A UK-UAE parade, tour, and commemoration of the center’s namesake, Sergeant William Donnelly, were also held during the event.

The Princess Royal met with the late soldier’s family and Al Minhad personnel during the signing of the base’s legacy Joint Force Support flag.

Donnelly Lines

William Donnelly was an Air Force navigator who lost his life in 1943 during the Second World War at Fujairah, 57 miles (121 kilometers) east of Al Minhad. The sergeant’s Vickers Wellington long-range medium bomber aircraft experienced an oil leak while flying from RAF Sharjah to India.

This forced the plane to crash-land on the coast of Sayh Dhadnah, resulting in the death of the airman and “irreparable damage to the aircraft.”

Three surviving crew members used the bomber’s parts and nearby stones to stack Donnelly’s grave. An official memorial was later established in 2010. It remains a symbol of London and Abu Dhabi’s ongoing strategic partnership.

Enhancing ‘Operational Resilience’

According to the Royal Air Force, the British center at Al Minhad serves as “an essential part of the UK’s global footprint.”

The launch is also an affirmation of the country’s “enduring presence” across international territories “in what remains an uncertain world beset by turbulent times.”

On 1 March 2024, Her Royal Highness (HRH) The Princess Royal officially opened a permanent UK military facility at Al-Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates. The new HQ, accommodation and welfare facility is called Donnelly Lines, aft Sgt Donnelly who died in Feb 1943 in Furijarah after the crew of an RAF Wellington Bomber crash landed.The facility demonstrates the UK and RAF commitment to the UAE and the region as we stand side by side to work for peace and stability in the region. The UAE and the UK have a long and shared history and this development is the next step of that bilateral friendship.
The Princess Royal signs a legacy Joint Force Support flag during an opening ceremony of UK’s military facilities in Al Minhad, UAE. Photo: UK Royal Air Force

“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 agency said.

“The siting of Donnelly Lines at [Al Minhad Air Base] enables the UK to maintain our freedom of action and ability to conduct operations from the UAE, bolstering our operational resilience.”

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