BY Abdulwahab kore
I jetted into Hargeisa, the capital city of Somaliland for some official business recently. I was last in this city way back in 2008 and was overly impressed by the development that has taken place in the city since then.
Magnificent Dahabshiil glass coated business centre is one of the major landmarks in the city…This is a typical impressive modern building, but does not make one feel any touch of the rich Somaliland culture. What excites most residents and visitors about this big, glass and shiny building in the city of Hargeisa that it houses the biggest shopping mall in Somaliland and has a lift and an elevator in it – the only one in the country! It houses Banks, restaurants, hotels, GYM, swimming pool, shopping centers and almost everything else found in any other modern Malls in the world.
Hargeisa is exciting and warm. It is the capital city of Somaliland, a country that in the eyes of the rest of the world is a northern state of the larger Somalia. If indeed, Somaliand is just another state in Somalia then it has a special status as a state because whether you are from other parts of Somalia or other countries in the world, you require a visa issued by Somaliland Immigration office to enter Hargeisa/Somaliland…Somalilanders believe they claimed their independence from Somalia to its south in 1991 and are very proud to belong.
Hargeisans are a very friendly, hardworking, highly optimistic and hospitable people. They love visitors, don’t shy away from engaging you in discussions and treat everyone with kindness and humility.
A number of airlines fly to Hargeisa and have prominent offices in the city. These include Air Djibouti, Arabia Air, Emirates, Fly Dubai and Ethiopia Air. There are no direct flights from Nairobi. Flying from Nairobi to Hargeisa can only be done on transit through Mogadishu or Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa.
Hargeisans are strongly attached to the Arab world, perhaps as a way of compensating for the gap left by International Community who have refused to recognise Somaliland Independence. The first roaming alert you receive on your phone once you land at Egal International Airport, Hargeisa is a welcome to the United Arab Emirates mobile telephone network, Etiselat.
I arrived at Mansoor Hotel just in time to watch the Arsenal vs Liverpool match.I watched the thrashing of the wenger-lings from the comfort of my hotel room on a Somaliland TV channel broadcasted in Arabic. The following morning, I was joined at the breakfast table by a host of Turkish humanitarian workers. Turks are extremely popular in Hargeisa.
The beautiful city under the sun with its 800,000 residents is a favourite tourist destination hosting a number of nationalities inspite of lack of international recognition. Somaliland is safe.
The city has beautiful people, beautiful streets and beautiful architectural housing designs. Much of the construction in Hargeisa has been funded by the Somaliland diaspora who have also invested heavily in hospitality industry. The Somaliand diaspora is determined to shape the destiny of the “country” they love with alot of passion.