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    Tuesday, April 25, 2023

    Eastern Cape Govt Mulls Leasing Bisho Airport to UAE Govt, Royal Family

    Esther Rose

    The UAE President and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and 500 of his entourage, including government officials, caused a stir in South Africa last week when they landed their private planes at Bulembu Airport in Bisho - a military base decommissioned in the 1990s.

    Latest reports are that the Eastern Cape government is considering leasing the Bhisho airport to the president and the royal family.

    Upgrades amounting to U.S.$1 million was paid for by the UAE president so that he could have easy access to his privately-owned game reserve, for a quiet holiday to mark the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadaan on Saturday April 22, 2023.

    Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane applied to the Department of Home Affairs to declare Bulembu Airport a port of entry for the UAE visitors to land directly from their country.

    The airport is being seen as an opportunity to generate revenue and to create jobs for a province that has a very high unemployment rate. The UAE is known for its investments in ports and airports worldwide. However, there are fears that the Bhisho airport may be used for military purposes or become a hub for illegal activities.

    The Eastern Cape government is also working to strengthen trade relations with the UAE in education, agriculture, renewable energy, oil and gas, research and innovation, as well as partnerships in the aviation economy.

    It follows a visit by the premier to the UAE in March 2023, where he looked into trade and investment opportunities, as well as potential cooperation in renewable and green energy, oil and gas, manufacturing, agro-processing and industrialisation.

    The plane landing wsa reminiscent of the Gupta family who landed their plane at the Waterkloof Airforce military base in Pretoria 10 years ago so that they could attend a family wedding.

    Bulembu Airport is occupied by the SA military's airborne infantry unit and the SAPS Airwing, according to News24.

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