Barack Obama to land in the Capital next month

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HE’S the latest in a string of global icons to hit the Capital – and arguably the biggest of the lot.

Barack Obama’s first trip to Scotland is sure to be one business leaders and children’s charities will never forget.

Barack Obama is heading for the Capital. Picture: Getty Images

Barack Obama is heading for the Capital. Picture: Getty Images

The former US president will attend a charity event at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre next month, where he will participate in a detailed Q&A session, as well as deliver a keynote speech to dozens of organisations.

While it is not yet known if his wife, Michelle Obama, will be accompanying him on the trip, speculation is already rising over which hotel he will choose for his stay.

The formal dinner is being organised by The Hunter Foundation, set up by leading businessman and philanthropist Sir Tom Hunter, with tickets for a table of ten expected to go on sale for approximately £5,000.

Interest in the event, set to take place on May 26, will be massive, not least as it will be one of Mr Obama’s first major addresses since his term as president came to an end.

Obama will be speaking at the EICC. Picture: Bill Henry

Obama will be speaking at the EICC. Picture: Bill Henry

All profits raised from the evening will be split between Scottish children’s charities and the Obama Foundation, set up by the Obamas themselves.

Sir Tom said he was “really chuffed” that Mr Obama, who served eight years in the White House, was coming to Scotland.

He said: “From the South Side of Chicago to the White House has been an epic, historic journey and it will be a true honour to hear that story from the man who made that journey.

“We are both truly proud and delighted to be hosting the 44th president of the United States in Scotland at this event.

Hollywood actor George Clooney in Edinburgh Picture; Phil Wilkinson

Hollywood actor George Clooney in Edinburgh Picture; Phil Wilkinson

“We’re always looking for really inspiring speakers to come along to Scotland, and really inspire and inform.

“To be able to get President Obama, we’re really chuffed.”

He added that his team was organising a special surprise for the global icon.

He said: “President Obama loves his music, so we’re getting some interesting guests.”

Excitement across the city is already building, with some shops jokingly vowing to extend their opening hours if there is a chance the former president might stop by.

Tony Flynn, of Scooby’s sandwich shop, which is situated directly across from the EICC on Morrison Street, said: “We are so excited to hear about Obama’s visit to Edinburgh.

“We all think he is great here.

“Any high profile names visiting is always good for 
Edinburgh. Despite the fact we are right across the road from the EICC, I doubt very much he will drop in to the shop – I’m still excited nonetheless.

“However, if he did decide he wanted to pay us a little visit, I wouldn’t mind keeping the shop open for a few extra hours.”

Obama, America’s 44th president, will be the latest high profile name to visit Edinburgh over the last few years.

He follows in the footsteps of George Clooney, Bill Clinton and most recently Leonardo DiCaprio, who all flew over to Scotland after persuasion from the Hunter Foundation.

Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger also visited last year.

While Clooney and DiCaprio were here, they made a few flying visits to local social enterprises, including Social Bite on Rose Street and the Home Restaurant on Queensferry Street.

However it is not yet known if Mr Obama, who retains a Secret Service detail, will head out onto the Capital’s streets.

Joanna Mowatt, city centre councillor, said: “Edinburgh is a city that has welcomed great men and women from all over the world.

“We are absolutely delighted to be having Barack Obama here next month.

“No doubt he will take his visit in his stride and hopefully he will be out and about in the city.

“Edinburgh is such a wonderful place, hopefully he will take advantage of all the city has to offer.”

According to Edinburgh Airport, specific details of where and when Mr Obama’s aircraft will land in Scotland have not been revealed.

It is understood both Clooney and DiCaprio both previously landed at Edinburgh airport.

What is known is that Sir Tom has arranged to set aside some seats at the prestigious event for local young people.

He plans to run a competition later this month, which will allow one secondary school to win a table at the dinner.

Lord Provost, Donald Wilson, welcomed the news of another high profile name visiting the city.

He said: “While President Obama flew in to the UK and Ireland during his term in office, this will be his first visit to Edinburgh.

“This city is no stranger to welcoming famous personalities from the US, most recently George Clooney and Leonardo Di Caprio.

“Welcoming a past president is sure to be a historic occasion for the city and I am sure Mr Obama will receive a very warm reception from the people of Edinburgh.”

In January 2009, Barack Obama became the first African American to have served as president.

After winning re-election over Mitt Romney, Obama was sworn in for a second term in 2013 before Donald Trump took over this year.

He lives in Washington DC but his presidential library is set to be built in Chicago.