Kenya opens embassy in Oman to pep up its tourism potential

MUSCAT: The Republic of Kenya has opened its embassy in Oman in an apparent move to strengthen its bilateral relations and for attracting leisure tourists from the Sultanate.

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Although the embassy recently started its operation at Shatti al Qurum, a formal inauguration will be held sometime next month, when cabinet ministers from Kenya visit Oman, Kenya’s Charge d’Affairs Yabesh O Monari, told Times of Oman.

“Since we opened in April, we have issued about 900 visas, 700 for Omanis and 200 for expatriates,” he said, adding, “The demand for Kenyan visas is rising steadily. The embassy now issues visas instantly upon application.”

Monari said people of both countries share a unique historical relation that dates back to several centuries. Swahili is widely spoken in Oman. In Kenya, Swahili is the official language and Muscat and Mombasa share a lot in common, he added.

Wildlife tourism
Monari said Kenya offers a unique and unforgettable experience for tourists, especially for those who love wildlife tourism. “Kenya has a total of 54 national parks and reserves. Kenya is one of the world’s leading travel destinations thanks to its scenery, magnificent wild life, sports and pleasant year round climate.”

A spectacular annual event that has been recognised as one of the wonders of the world is the biggest migration of large mammals. In July every year, over 1.5 million wild beasts migrate from Serengeti plains in Tanzania to fresh pastures in the Masai Mara before going back in October.

A Kenyan safari is an African experience, combining animals in the plains, the beaches in Mombasa, Rift Valley and Malindi.

Referring to the procedures for getting a visit visa to Kenya, he said Omani visa applicants have to submit their application, along with a copy of identify card and passport, passport-size photographs and a fee of RO20. For expatriates, apart from these necessary documents, the embassy needs a letter from
the employer.

RO102 million trade
Saying that the two-way trade between the countries was RO102 million last year, Monari noted that Kenya’s exports to Oman were estimated at RO50 million, while the imports from Oman were approximately RO52 million.

“We expect an increase in the volume of trade, we are receiving numerous trade queries and are issuing many business visas. The Kenyan products are also becoming visible in leading supermarkets
in Oman.” Nairobi exports metallic salt, tea, coffee, meat, crude vegetables materials, fruits and nuts and flowers. Similarly, Oman’s export items include petroleum oil, machine tools, plates and sheets, aluminium, pumps, and boats and plastics.

Kenya offers a great opportunity for investment, thanks to an abundant, well-trained labour and strategic location providing easy access to regional and world markets.

He said as many as 200 Kenyans work in Oman. Most of them are science and English teachers, hoteliers, engineers and a limited number of unskilled workers. “Kenya has the largest pool of trained English speaking professionals in Africa in various fields such as information technology engineers, hoteliers, doctors, nurses and teachers. We expect the number of Kenyans to increase with the presence of the Embassy,” he elaborated.

Kenya’s national carrier Kenya Airways is the only airline operating direct flights between Muscat and Nairobi, which is now three times a week. Other airlines such Air Arabia, Gulf Air, Qatar Airways and Emirates fly to Nairobi via their capitals.

“Hopefully, in the future, with the number of travellers expected to increase between Muscat and Nairobi, we anticipate to have daily flights.”

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