East African Business Week
Friday August 9, 2019
By Odindo Ayieko
Saudi Arabia will soon start issuing visas on Somaliland passports.
This is a departure from the Kingdom’s previously long held position of issuing visas on Somali passports holders and not Somaliland passports.
The issuance of the visas to Somalilanders starts with those who will be heading for pilgrimage in Mecca this month.
Already, the president of Somaliland Muse Bihi is in Saudi Arabia on an official invitation from King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz. The two leaders are expected to hold talks on how the two countries can cement their trade relations.
Saudi Arabia will also recognize Somaliland diplomatic passports.
There are reports that the Saudi King sent the Somaliland delegation a private, royal jet to collect them from Hargeisa’s Egal International Airport direct to the Kingdom.
This is the first time a Somaliland president is receiving official invitation from Saudi leadership.
This comes just two months after the Somaliland president met Saudi envoy Amb Mohamed Khayat in Hargeisa where the two discussed how Saudi Arabia would assist Somaliland in the areas of the economy, investment, lifting the ban on Somaliland livestock export to KSA and ways to enhance the bilateral ties between two countries.
President Bihi has been courting Saudi for some time and expressing his country’s close ties with the kingdom.
“Firstly we are neighbors of Saudi Arabia. Second, our exports go to Saudi Arabia, third in Saudi Arabia there are two holy mosques that we have to visit, so consider all these reasons for us to be aligned with Saudi Arabia,”Bihi said in a previous interview.
Somaliland exports livestock to the Middle East, notably Saudi Arabia with the highest exports going during the Hajj period.