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UAE investors want direct flights to Namibia

Staff writer |
Investors from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) who run a date farm at the Naute Dam are say travelling to Namibia is a hassle for them.

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"It requires us to apply for two travelling visas for Namibia and South Africa, which is way too expensive for us," the Al Dahra Agricultural Company's vice-president, Khadim Abdulla Aldarei said.

Aldarei told Minister of Trade and Industry, Calle Schlettwein during a business meeting in Abu Dhabi that their travelling to Namibia has now become cumbersome.

"We have to travel via South Africa first, and for us to do that, we are forced to pay for a South African visa and then a Namibian one, making it very expensive."

Al Dahra is a joint venture with the Namibian Development Corporation (NDC) and has been cultivating date-palm trees and grapes on a 200-hectare piece of land around the Naute Dam area.

Aldarei said the dates and grapes produced at the Naute Dam are sold in the UAE and on other international markets.

"For the past four years, the dates from the Naute Dam have been of a high quality, and the grapes harvested in 2012 and 2013 were also of a very high quality. We are very happy with our commercial farming activities in Namibia, and we see great potential for growth in the future," he said.

Aldarei asked Schlettwein to push for the introduction of direct flights between Namibia and Abu Dhabi. He also asked the minister to use his influence to speed-up the opening of a consulate office in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, where the processing of travelling documents could be done within a few hours.

At present, it takes them two weeks to get the necessary travelling documents ready before they can fly to Namibia via South Africa.

Aldarei said on many occasions, several business investors from Al Dahra had to reroute their flights through Frankfurt to Windhoek in order to avoid paying for the two visas. On the direct-flight issue, the minister said he will talk to the Air Namibia authorities to grab this opportunity and start operating a direct commercial flight from Namibia to the UAE as soon possible.

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