YALLA KENYA

Oman 2017 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

TBY talks to Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, on boosting cooperation between the two countries, a marketing campaign targeting GCC tourists, and ensuring maritime safety.

Uhuru Kenyatta
BIOGRAPHY
Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in as the fourth President of Kenya in 2013. After a start in business, Kenyatta turned to politics in 1997, entering parliament as a nominated member in 1999 and the cabinet as Minister for Local Government in 2001. In 2002, he was elected one of the KANU party’s four national vice-chairs, but lost to Mwai Kibaki in the presidential election, and subsequently served as the Leader of the Opposition. He was appointed Minister for Local Government in January 2008 in Kibaki’s presidency, going on to serve as Minister for Finance and Deputy Prime Minister until 2012. He was recently voted Chair of the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

How can increased cooperation with Oman bring mutual benefit to both countries?

Increased cooperation between Kenya and Oman would allow Oman not only access to the region, but also to the growing Kenyan market and the improving investment environment. The Kenyan economy provides enormous opportunities and potential for mutually beneficial business interactions between the two countries. In line with Kenya's Vision 2030, key business and investment opportunities exist in the fields of tourism, agriculture, transport and infrastructure, manufacturing, communications, energy, building and construction, and pharmaceuticals. Specific areas of interest to business include eco-tourism, power generation equipment, road construction, telecommunications equipment, food processing, cement production, motor vehicle parts and agricultural inputs, among others. Kenya intends to enhance cooperation with Oman in these and other sectors for mutual benefit, as both countries continue to diversify their economies. Kenya also works closely with Oman in the multilateral arena, particularly within the context of South-South cooperation and shares the ideals of peaceful resolution to conflict. Our two countries have continued to benefit from people-to-people interactions and cultural ties, which have helped to shape relations in all other sectors.

How does Kenya's strategy to capture tourists from the GCC seek to increase the inflow of Omani tourists to Kenya?

Kenya has identified the need to create more product awareness about distinct tourism attractions and to attract more visitors from the GCC region. In this regard, marketing development representatives were appointed to market Kenya's diverse tourism products in the region. Kenya also actively participates in regional tourism expos, such as the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai and hosted our own Magical Kenya Travel Expo in Nairobi in 2016 in which travel agents from the GCC were invited to participate. In addition, Kenya has launched the “Yalla Kenya" campaign, which specifically targets the GCC region. The campaign, which means “Let's Go Kenya," was launched in the UAE and is expected to be rolled out in the rest of the countries. Kenya and Oman have a rich cultural and historical affinity, with the coast of Kenya having strong historical ties with Arabs from across the Gulf of Aden. With approximately 11% of the population of Kenya (over 4.5 million) being Muslim, Omani travelers would feel at home as halal food is available everywhere, mosques are located in all parts of the country, and the Kiswahili language is widely spoken. Major airlines provide seamless connections between Kenya and Oman. The impending commencement of direct flights from Muscat to Nairobi in 2017 will provide a big boost to Kenya's efforts to attract visitors from Oman and the GCC region. The presence of the Embassy of Kenya in Muscat ensures that the process of issuing visas is much faster. We intend to further improve our awareness campaign and strategize for increasing the inflow of tourists from the region.

What are some of the efforts currently undertaken by both governments to maintain the safe passage of maritime trade in the coastal areas between Kenya and Oman?

Kenya is in the process of developing an integrated and cross sector maritime policy to help accelerate growth of its maritime economy. Similarly, and in recognition of the importance of the maritime sector within the African continent, the African heads of state and government adopted and signed the African Charter on Maritime Security, Safety, and Development in October 2016. The charter aims to solidify Africa's commitment to the efficient and effective management of its oceans, seas, and waterways so as to ensure the sustainable, equitable, and beneficial exploration of these critical resources. As active members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO), Kenya and Oman work closely to promote and protect interests within the Indian Ocean and pursue maritime safety and security issues. The two countries are similarly in the process of concluding an MoU between Salalah Port Services and Kenya Ports Authority to enhance cooperation between the two major port cities and improve their economic and strategic cooperation.