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Fact check: Images of 'diamond-covered' Emirates airplane were created digitally by Pakistani artist

Emirates told Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News that none of its airplanes were covered in bling. Shakeel, who is a dentist-turned-crystal artist, also stated that her artworks are "nothing more than an illusion".

January 31, 2022 / 05:13 PM IST
A digitally created artwork by Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel.

A digitally created artwork by Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel.


Recently, multiple posts were being circulated on social media, especially Facebook, about a "diamond-encrusted airplane" from the UAE-based airline Emirates.

The posts, however, are misleading as the images were digitally created by Pakistani artist Sara Shakeel, a fact-check by news agency AFP has revealed.

A collage of three images of an aircraft sitting on a runway were shared in this post, published on Facebook on December 10, 2021.

The English- and Sinhala-language caption to the post reads: "Emirates Diamond-Encrusted Airplane. What a beauty".

Screengrab from one of the Facebook posts. Screengrab from one of the Facebook posts.

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Multiple Facebook posts featured the same pictures with a similar claim, as seen herehere and here.

The first picture is a cropped and mirrored image of the third picture.

The posts, however, are misleading.

The images do not show a real diamond-encrusted airplane — they are digitally created artworks.

A reverse image search on Google led to this December 4, 2018, post on the official Twitter account of Emirates, featuring an identical image.

The caption to post states the image was created by Sara Shakeel, a London-based Pakistani digital and visual artist.

Shakeel, who is a dentist-turned-crystal artist, also put up a post on Instagram regarding her artwork of the Emirates plane.


Emirates told Dubai-based newspaper Gulf News that none of its airplanes were covered in bling.

"We just posted an art piece made by crystal artist Sara Shakeel," an Emirates spokesperson was quoted as saying. "I can confirm it’s not (real)."

In an interview published by Architectural Digest Middle East on January 2, 2020, Shakeel explained that she created the Emirates artwork spontaneously while she was travelling.

"I was flying to Milan because I was nominated for an award (which I won) and my excitement level was through the roof. Before boarding, I saw my plane and decided to take a picture and quickly cover it up in crystals. I posted the picture before flying and went to sleep.

She also told the magazine that her artworks are "nothing more than an illusion".

(With inputs from AFP)



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first published: Jan 31, 2022 05:01 pm
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