The President of the UAE and ruler of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his family landed in the Eastern Cape on Wednesday on a R20m runway he built with his own money, reports News24.

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 Ramadaan.

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 large tract of land two years ago.

While many have been left stunned by the landing of international flights at Bulembu Airport near Bhisho 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. The UAE President pumped in R20m for the extension of the runway and renovations at the airport, which is occupied by the SA military's airborne infantry unit and the SAPS Airwing.

A government official in the know said the provincial government ‘pulled out all the stops and followed every bit of legislation and law to make this visit happen’.

The official revealed that that UAE's interest in SA was sparked by President Cyril Ramaphosa's 2018 visit to that country and Saudi Arabia, where he triggered financial commitments worth about R364bn from the two countries.

Full News24 report