Divers Marine Contracting LLC started construction of a United Arab Emirates naval base in a semi-autonomous region of northern Somalia.
The closely held Sharjah-based engineering group began work on the project after being awarded the $90 million contract in April, Managing Director Abdulla Darwish said in an interview in Dubai. The facility, being built near the regional port of Berbera, is expected to be completed by June, he said.
Berbera is located on the Gulf of Aden, 260 kilometers (162 miles) south of Yemen, where U.A.E. troops in a Saudi Arabia-led coalition are battling Houthi rebels. Somaliland’s foreign minister said in May that the U.A.E. leased the airport in Berbera for 25 years as part of a pact for a military base. The Gulf country is also building a military installation in Eritrea.
The Somaliland naval base will include a 300-meter (984-foot) L-shaped inland berthing port with a depth of 7 meters “to support the military airport,” accommodating naval vessels to patrol the Gulf of Aden, according to Darwish.
“It’s not a commercial port,” he said. “It’s only for naval vessels.”
Somaliland Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire didn’t immediately respond to two calls to his mobile and two emails seeking comment. A U.A.E. foreign ministry official didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.By Nizar Manek — With assistance by Mahmoud Habboush