The first non-stop Emirates service from Angola's capital Luanda arrived in Dubai in the early hours of Monday, amid hopes of expanding business links between the two countries.

Emirates will operate three flights a week with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, connecting the oil-rich southern African nation with the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

It hopes to cash in on the number of Asian labourers who work on Angolan construction sites, as well as other expatriates in Angola.

Non-oil trade between Angola and Dubai, a big exporter of cars to Angola, reached 800 million dollars (532.5 million euros) last year -- a growth of 1,200 percent in just four years.

"We know that Dubai and Angola have been moving ever closer in terms of growth of trade and we believe that with this route we will be able to strengthen that trade," Nigel Page, Emirates' senior vice president for the Americas and Africa, told reporters.

Angolan Transport Minister Augusto da Silva Tomas said: "An air link between two rapidly developing countries will enhance the growth potential between these nations."

"The reputation of the Emirates and its preference for Angola as a preferred destination in Africa, shows the huge interest in Angola awakens the world."

Luanda is Emirates' 18th destination in Africa. The South African coastal city of Durban was earlier added to its route map ahead of the 2010 football World Cup in June.

In June 2007, Angola's national carrier TAAG was blacklisted by the European Commission due to poor safety standards and barred from EU airports. But in July this year it was approved to fly to Portugal using Boeing 777 aircraft.