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Compiled by Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

UAE royals land at South African military base

Ten years after the Gupta's landed at Waterkloof, the UAE royal family arrived from Dubai, and landed at Bulembu Airport in the Eastern Cape.

Reports have emerged that the United Arab Emirates’ royal family quietly landed at a South African Defence Force (SANDF) military base in the Eastern Cape.

This comes ten years after the controversial Gupta family landed at the Waterkloof Air Force Base in April 2013.

That commercial aircraft was carrying some 200 travellers which had flown in from India to attend a lavish Gupta wedding at Sun City, and was allowed to land at the base, which is ordinarily reserved for military and diplomatic flights.

UAE royals

Fast forward ten years later, three aircraft carrying members of the UAE royal family arrived from Dubai, and landed at Bulembu Airport in the Eastern Cape according to the News24 report.

The news website reports that while UAE ruler, King Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is apparently set to fly in on Wednesday Prince, Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, are already in the country.

ALSO READ: ‘It felt like the base was captured by this Indian delegation’: witness describes Gupta Waterkloof landing

Investment opportunities

The visit to South Africa comes after an application was submitted by the provincial government and Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane who visited the UAE in April for the purpose of exploring trade opportunities. 

Following that “special request” from the provincial government and Mabuyane, the military airfield was turned into a temporary port of entry, in line with the Immigration Act, by Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.


Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Khuselwa Rantjie said all relevant protocols were followed, in line with regulations.

Bulembu Airport is the base of the airborne infantry unit of the South African National Defence Forces (SANDF) and is also used by the police’s airwing unit.

Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said President Cyril Ramaphosa is not scheduled to meet with the UAE royals, adding that it was “common practice for arrangements to be made for the aircraft of heads of state to land at military airports when they arrive in South Africa.”

ALSO READ: I lied over Gupta plane, too ashamed to face Zuma and others – Koloane

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