By Uganda Online Media
Entebbe: The Saudi Arabian official career today launched direct flights to Entebbe as the country looks forward to starting official flights from Uganda direct to Riyadh.
The inaugural flight landed at Entebbe International Airport this morning at 7:00 am marking the beginning of the two round trips per week between Entebbe International Airport and Riyadh’s King Khalid International Airport.
The route will be operated by Saudia A330 aircraft, becoming Saudi Arabia’s only fourth destination after Addis Ababa, Mauritius, and Nairobi.
In a meeting between Uganda’s Foreign Affairs Minister Gen Jeje Odongo and H.E Ahmed Bin Abdul Aziz Kattan, Minister of State for African States Affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia last year, the two nations agreed to strengthen ties through trade hence the idea of the airline to operate the Uganda- Saudi route.
Minister Kattan expressed his gratitude to the Government of Uganda for granting Saudi Airlines the right to fly between the two countries adding that this will result in increased volumes of trade between Uganda and Saudi Arabia.
He mentioned that Uganda and Saudi Arabia share the fight against terrorism and violent extremism. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia played a key role in the establishment of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Center (UNCCT) in 2011 to promote international counter-terrorism cooperation and support Member States in the implementation of the global counter-terrorism strategy
H.E Kattan further emphasized the pledge made by the Crown Prince, H.E Mohammed bin Salman to invest 1 Billion USD in Africa under the Saudi Africa Investment Program, where the Kingdom will support African countries with investments and loans this year to help their economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uganda also intends to benefit from Saudi Arabia’s interest importation of products like fruits, vegetables, spices, milk, grains, and nuts.
However, while the flight between Saudi Arabia and Entebbe is meant to strengthen relations owing to the recent MoU between Uganda and Saudi Arabia at State House Entebbe last year, it also comes at a time when the labor export from Uganda to Saudi is rapidly increasing.
The Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development database indicates that the number could be over 100,000 in the last five years.
According to a report, between 2016 and early 2019, there were 21,716 Ugandan migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and Jordan alone: 17,597 in Saudi Arabia and 4,119 in Jordan.
It should be noted that in January 2016, the Ugandan government had placed a ban on the migration of Ugandan domestic workers to Saudi Arabia but was later rescinded on March 10th, 2017 following the introduction of measures to promote safety and rights of Ugandan domestic workers in Saudi Arabia.
Ugandans working abroad contributed approximately 4.5 percent to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product, placing it above the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 2.8 percent as of 2020.