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By Citizen Reporter


UAE opens travel to South Africa again

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu held a number of meetings with the UAE’s government but not everyone is convinced her visit to Dubai was purely work-related.

South African’s have been given the green light to enter the United Arab Emirates again, following a two-month-long travel ban.

The UAE was one of 70 countries to close their doors to South Africa and neighbouring countries following African scientists identification of the Omicron variant – a decision that prompted widespread condemnation from Africa and the World Health Organisation.

Travellers from Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, were permitted to enter as of Saturday 29 January.

The UAE is one of South Africa’s top bilateral trade partners in the Middle East, with total exports worth R25.4 billion in 2018.

Tourism Minister Lindiwe Sisulu held a number of meetings with the UAE’s government including a member of the country’s royal family, His Highness, Sheik Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Makhtoum.

The Department said Sisulu has been hard at work selling South Africa as a safe country to visit.

“The war room that has been established has started to yield results and today we see the UAE opening their doors to our travellers. Let us continue to work hand in hand to revive our industry,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu held bilateral engagements with potential investors, members of the trade that sell South Africa to the world, executives of the airlines and members of the SA Diplomatic Community during her four-day working visit to Dubai from 12 to 16 December 2021. 

Emirates Airlines was one of a handful of air carriers that had restricted travel to the country.

South Africa has a code-sharing agreement with the Emirates, which gives the Airline access to domestic routes while promoting South Africa on its Airline’s Global Network.

“Airlift is a key pillar for South Africa’s tourism recovery and therefore it is critical to collaborate with Emirates to support our turnaround strategy,” said Sisulu.

His Highness, Sheik Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Makhtoum, says Emirates long-term plan is to grow the tourism business instead of being dependent on passenger transit only as previously.

Sisulu has welcomed the decision to open borders to SA.

“As countries begin to relax barriers of entry to and from South Africa, we expect to see an increased resumption of travel which in turn will speed up the recovery of the industry,” said Sisulu.

But not everyone is convinced that Sisulu’s visit to Dubai was purely work-related.

A Daily Maverick article reported that while in Dubai, Sisulu had a meeting with Gupta lieutenant Salim Essa’s business partner Hamza Farooqui.

Sisulu has denied the allegation and labelled the article a “fishing spree for nefarious reasons.”

Sisulu has come under for penning a controversial op-ed that essentially delivered a stinging attack on the country’s judiciary and prompted widespread condemnation and calls for her to be disciplined.

At the same time, Sisulu is challenging state and party President Cyril Ramahosa for the top job set to take place at the party’s elective conference in December 2022.

Compiled by Narissa Subramoney

NOW READ: Lindiwe Sisulu denies meeting with Gupta associates in Dubai

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