His Excellency the President of the Republic of Somaliland, Musa Bihi Abdi, left the capital, Hargeisa, on Thursday for a visit to the United Arab Emirates which comes within 40 days of another in March.
The President, accompanied by Prof. Yassin Haj Mohamoud Hiir ‘Faratoon’, the country’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the newly-appointed Minister for Planning and Development, Abdihakim Osman Haji Abdi ‘Shibbin’, flew off on a Royal private jet plane sent by the Emirates to pick them up. According to Minister Faratoon, who spoke to the media, the visit would centre on further cementing development cooperation between the two countries, fostering a greater volume of investment on the part of the Emirati business community in Somaliland, sharing experiences and progress on on-going projects such as the $440-mln development and expansion of the vital Red Sea port of Berbera, and the Free Zone. This project is in the hands of the Dubai-based port operator, DP World, which has entered a long-term concession agreement with Somaliland in 2017.During the visit, other critical cooperation areas such as the 240-km Berbera Corridor dual carriageway linking Somaliland and Ethiopia will come into focus.
It is expected, although nothing was said about it at the media briefing or the Presidency’s Press Release, later, that Somaliland push for an international recognition of its passport so this year’s pilgrims to Mecca would be able to use without going through the hassle of forging citizenship in order to be able to honour the Hajj obligation.
Another area that will be of tremendous benefit not only to Somaliland but to all Somalis will be the intervention of the UAE to convince the Saudi Kingdom to accept Somali livestock export from Berbera on a UAE health guarantee.
At least one Somalia media outlet, Garowe Online, reported that the President of the Puntland Somalia Federal State, Saeed Abdullahi Deni, was also on visit in the UAE, intimating that there might be a UAE-brokered meeting between the two sides. Puntland has started contesting sovereignty over large parts of Sanaag, Sool and Togdheer area as soon as it came to be in 1998 – some 8 years after Somaliland restored an independence it voluntarily ceded to Somalia in 1960 in ill-fated, disastrous, Somalia-dominated union.