Emirates airline said it is setting its sights on the land of Vasco da Gama by announcing flights to Portugal from 9th July.
"The airline, further extending its European reach, will start a daily flights to Lisbon in the south west corner of Europe, just six days after launching flights to Barcelona in neighbouring Spain," a statement said.
Emirates will serve Lisbon with a modern Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, a far cry from more than 500 years ago when Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama put to sea in search of a passage to India.
Offering First Class, Business Class and Economy Class cabins, EK 191 will leave Dubai at 0915hrs each day and arrive in Lisbon at 1445hrs. The return flight, EK 192 departs Lisbon at 1755hrs and gets into Dubai at 0435hrs the next day. The Portuguese capital becomes Emirates' 31st European destination.
"Lisbon has been on our European wish-list for some time. Our daily flight will link this far western corner of Europe with our strong route network, via Dubai, into Africa, across Asia and beyond, said Tim Clark, President, Emirates Airline. "We will be the only carrier based in the Middle East operating into Portugal, bringing our refreshing approach to customer service, our dynamic and inspiring approach to business, along with superb value for money," Mr Clark added.
Through its industry-leading international hub in Dubai, the airline's serves many of the countries where Portuguese is heard including India, Angola, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Brazil and Hong Kong - gateway to the former Portuguese enclave of Macau.
Since joining what became the European Union in the mid-1980s, Portugal's traditional focus on an agricultural economy has become increasingly diversified, with a steady expansion of the service sector.
As one of Europe's warmest countries, Portugal is a popular tourist destination. Its better known attractions, such as the resorts of the Algarve, are supplemented by medieval castles and scenic villages dotted around winding coastlines and hillsides.
"We are delighted to welcome Emirates to Lisbon and we look forward to a long and successful partnership with our newest airline client," said Lisbon Airport Director João Nunes.
"Emirates have established a high level of excellence and admiration within the aviation community and we are confident that passengers will be eager to take advantage of the new route for travel to the Middle East and beyond. Connectivity is essential for business and for tourism and this new flight and the onward connections that it will provide will be very beneficial for the Portuguese economy," Nunes added.
Portugal has a population of around 10 million, of which nearly 2 million live in Lisbon and its suburbs. It is estimated there are some 200 million Portuguese speakers around the world, making it the third most spoken European language globally, according to Visit Portugal.
Portugal has more than 800 kilometres of Atlantic coast and is the primary point of access to the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira.
In Lisbon, visitors can sip an expresso on the leafy streets, go window shopping in Chiado square, visit Jeronimos Monastery, the World Heritage Site and resting place for Vasco da Gama, or view treasured art at places such as Calouste Gulbenkian and Berardo museums.
Lisbon was recently ranked the 7th best city in Europe for shopping by the "Globe Shopper City Index" of The Economist Intelligence Unit. The city also ranks 8th in the world for international conferences and events, according to the International Conferences and Congress Association (ICCA).
Portugal's main exports feature textiles, clothing, wood products, machinery, tools and electrical equipment. Emirates SkyCargo, offering 17 tonnes of belly-hold capacity in the 777-200ER, will be on hand to assist importers and exporters.
The new service follows a trend of growing links between Portugal and the UAE. Portugal opened its embassy in the UAE in 2010 and the UAE reciprocated in Lisbon last year.
With a fleet of 169 aircraft, Emirates now flies to 121 destinations, having recently launched Dallas, Lusaka and Harare. Services to Seattle start on March 1, flights to Ho Chi Minh City get underway from 4th June and Barcelona joins the Emirates' network on July 3.