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UAE royal family’s 500-member entourage to spend Eid 2023 in South Africa

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The president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived in South Africa on Wednesday, April 19, along with his family and other staff members.

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Their arrival in the Eastern Cape province was widely reported by major media outlets that said he had landed on a US$1.1 million runway he built with his own money.

South Africa’s News24 portal reported: The wealthy ruler is in the country along with an entourage of 500, including other members of the UAE royal family, staff and top artists who are expected to perform for the family to mark the end of Ramadan.

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The royal family and their guests are said to have brought their own furniture, cars and gym equipment for their two-week stay in the Eastern Cape, the report added.

The ruler of Dubai was the last to arrive and was met by Prince Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, members of the UAE royal family, staff and artists, who landed at Bulembu Airport near Bhisho on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday respectively.

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More details from News24 report: UAE president lands in Eastern Cape on R20m runway he built for himself and his entourage.

Al Nahyan touched down in the royal private jet on Wednesday at around 14:00 and was immediately airlifted in one of five choppers that he brought into the country on a cargo plane.

One of the choppers is an air ambulance, the protection unit will use another, one transports the president, while the other two have supplies.

A government official said: “We accepted 500 people in the Eastern Cape since Sunday. This is because the president brought his family and staff, including protectors, doctors and entertainers. On Wednesday alone, we had 15 air traffic movements at the airport. I can confirm that there has been no single incident since Sunday, and we did not compromise any air traffic regulations.”

Highly placed sources claimed Al Nahyan would spend two weeks at a private game resort he built from scratch earlier this year after buying a big piece of land in the province two years ago.

While many have been left stunned by the landing of international flights at an airport that was decommissioned for passenger travel decades ago, News24 can reveal that the UAE ruler’s private jet, cargo jet and UAE airlines used the airport because the size of the aircrafts are too big for the runway and turning circle at Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport in Gqeberha. The Gqeberha airport is the Eastern Cape’s only international port of entry by air.

The UAE ruler requested to land at an airport near his Eastern Cape resort.

Bulembu Airport, which was the only airport of the Ciskei homeland, was decommissioned in the 1990s. It was the only airport with the potential for improvements that would meet the standards of the UAE planes in the province.


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