Hareb, a UAE national, will be responsible for the development and implementation of the airline's sales strategy in the UAE.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways' Chief Executive Officer, said: "The establishment of this senior position reflects the importance of our home market to our future growth and success.

"We have recently released our results for the first half of 2010 - our best ever first half performance - and with this return to strong passenger growth, we are intensifying our focus on sales performance, building stronger partnerships in the trade and corporate segments.

"Hareb has made a significant contribution to Etihad since joining us in 2004. His knowledge of the business and his deep understanding of the UAE market, which is our most important market, will be invaluable."

Mr Al Muhairi joined Etihad after studying political science and management at the UAE University in Al Ain. He has held various positions in marketing and product development, as well being posted to London as business development manager. In his most recent role, as Vice President of Corporate Communications, Mr Al Muhairi was responsible for implementing the airline's media strategy.

Mr Al Muhairi's appointment is part of a wider sales reorganisation within the airline, implemented to ensure Etihad is optimally positioned to support its growth plans.

Under the new structure, Raymond Korban, who was Regional General Manager for Etihad for the UAE and Oman, will become Regional General Manager for Levant and Africa, which will be an increasing area of focus for the airline.