JEDDAH (Somalilandpress) — Somaliland’s president Dahir Rayale Kahin on Saturday received an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia from Saudi officials, sources said.
Mr Rayale is expected to make his first trip to the oil-rich kingdom later this week after receiving an invitation from Saudi leaders according to sources in Jeddah. “The invitation to Somaliland’s leader was extended after Saudi officials held talks with Somaliland’s ministers currently in the Kingdom and Saudi tycoon Suleiman Al Jabri – a major investor in Somaliland” the source said.
Al Jabri completed a livestock quarantine facility in the Somaliland red sea port of Berbera at a cost of $5-million after he gained exclusive rights to export Somaliland livestock to the Saudi kingdom estimated to be worth around $250 million annually. Somaliland aviation minister, minister of Presidential residence, and the minister of Religion affairs are currently in Saudi Arabia.
In October this year, Saudi Arabia, once a large trading partner with Somaliland, lifted an embargo on Somaliland livestock that crippled the economy of this unrecognised republic for the past 10 years.
The ban on Somaliland livestock was believed to be politically motivated even though Saudi officials insisted it was to control unwarranted fears concerning a Rift Valley Fever, which had occurred shortly after massive rains in Kenya in 1998.
Insiders have always seen Saudi Arabia along with Egypt, as a major stumbling block to Somaliland’s international recognition and statehood.
Arab world is the largest importer of food and due to international food price fluctuations many Arab states have shifted their policies towards east African countries in recent times.
“The import will bring down cattle prices in the domestic market on the one hand and end the hardship faced by importers, particularly during the Haj season,” Suleiman Al-Jabri told Arabnews.
It is not clear how long president Rayale will stay in the Saudi Kingdom but diplomatic tie with regional and international player like Saudi Arabia will be a step forward for Somaliland’s international quest for recognition.
No immediate comment was available from the government. We could not reach the Presidential spokesman for comment.
[Picture/ Suleiman Al Jabri in Berbera – Somalilandnation 2009]