The ambitious United Arab Emirates

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TUCKED away behind rows of tin shacks and unkempt acacia trees, a cluster of tumbledown villas, mosques and a synagogue conjures up the grandeur of a port that once marked the southern tip of the Ottoman Empire. “Berbera is the true key of the Red Sea, the centre of east African traffic, and the only safe place for shipping upon the western Erythraean shore,” wrote Richard Burton, a British traveller, in 1855. “Occupation [by the British]…has been advised for many reasons.”After the British came the Russians and in the 1980s NASA, America’s space agency, which wanted its runway, one of Africa’s longest, as an emergency stop for its space shuttle. Now the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is Berbera’s latest arriviste. On March 1st DP World, a port operator based in Dubai, began working from Berbera’s beachside hotel. Officials put little Emirati flags on their desks, and refined plans to turn a harbour serving the breakaway republic of Somaliland into a gateway to the 100m people of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, Ethiopia. Three weeks later the UAE unveiled another deal for a 25-year lease of air and naval bases alongside. The agreement,…Continue reading
Source: Economist