Residents of Zimbabwe’s second city, Bulawayo, were today treated to the sight of an as yet unnamed Saudi Arab prince, with tongues wagging that he was in the city to look at investment opportunities.
The last known Arab Prince to invest in Zimbabwe took a stake in Harare’s Joina City, joining hands with millionaire businessman Shingi Mutusa to build one of the capital city’s – and indeed the country’s – major landmarks.
Saudi Arabian Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, is believed to have pumped US$1 billion into the project.
It is not yet known if it is the same man seen in Bulawayo today.
The Arab Prince and his entorage are booked at a local hotel in Ascot, where it is understood they have taken up the whole executive floor. The wing is currently guarded at both ends, with visitors being barred from accessing the floor, unless they have business with the Prince.
While no government ministers have been sighted meeting the Prince, observers said it was clear his presence was not without the knowledge of Harare.
“Government has laid out the whole works for the Prince; he has Police escort, two Land Cruisers of military protection, and vehicles of intelligence guards,” said one excited Bulawayo resident who asked not to be named.
“There is rumour that he might be interested in the Lupane gas deposits, and what do you know, geologists have always said where is methane gas deposits, one can be sure that there is some crude oil deposits nearby.”
The Prince landed this morning at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport, in his private jet. The jet was still parked at the airport at the time of writing.
Another source said it appeared President Mnangagwa’s Zimbabwe is Open for Business mantra was gaining currency in the right quarters and slowly producing results.
“Just the mere fact that a whole Arab prince is in the province means there is something of value which he is looking at, and that can only mean well for Bulawayo and its environs,” said the source.
Hotel employees were tight-lipped when probed by The Observer, saying they were under strict instructions not to talk about their valued guest or the reason for his visit.
“All I can tell you is that we are excited at this visit, and it is hoped that this is the beginning of good things to come for the city and the province,” said one employee of the hotel.
Of late the country has seen many Chinese investors, but none on the scale of the Joina City investor.
And of course there are also princes from African countries roaming the streets of Harare, mostly from Nigeria.