The self-declared Republic of Somaliland is looking to the Gulf secure its borders within the horn of Africa due to the regional instability.
The autonomous state is also looking to deepen its economic and security ties with Arabian Gulf countries, Foreign Minister Saad Ali Shire told Al Arabiya English’s exclusive #TheUnrecognizedRepublic.
In February 2017 the Somaliland parliament voted to provide the United Arab Emirates a military and naval base in the port city of Berbera.
The vote followed an agreement between Dubai Ports World and the Government of Somaliland to acquire the port of Berbera over a 30-year period.
“More than 30 thousand ships pass through the red sea every year and into our seas and we see it important to keep that important maritime route open and free from piracy and we hope that the presence of the UAE military will add to the security of the region,” the foreign minister said on #TheUnrecognizedRepublic.
Despite the country’s 800-kilometer-long shores on the Indian ocean they were able to free it from the threat of piracy.
“Piracy is a land base crime and we have managed to ensure that pirates do not have that base in Somaliland, we have a coast guard that is efficient and is developing and we hope that it will be further developed with the United Arab Emirates which is taking care of the security of the seas”
Shire insisted that the presence of the UAE in Somaliland will strengthen the stability and security in the region.
“There is a lot of contention in this region at the present time and unfortunately we are being brought back to the bad cold war days and we believe that the presence of the United Arab Emirates will bring stability in the region,” he said.
The country is facing a number of threats, the minister said, therefore making a security partnership with the UAE vital.
Threats include extremism, piracy, illegal immigration, human trafficking, as well as the unstable situation in Somalia and the war in Yemen.
“We have given a security facility to the United Arab Emirates and people have raised concerns regarding this being destabilizing to the region, however we view this as a stabilizing factor in the region,” he said.
Deepening relations with the Gulf
Economically, the foreign minister Shire said that Somaliland would like to deepen its relations with the Gulf countries.
“We would like to get more investors from the gulf countries and we would like to see more trade flows from the region and I would like to see our economies more integrated,” he said.
Currently Saudi Arabia is the country’s main export destination.
The main exports are livestock as well as commercial ties and relations with Oman and Kuwait, he said.
“We have a lot of opportunities for investments in different areas, in agriculture in livestock, minerals, tourism, and services.”
The Somaliland government is also planning to set up an investment company with in the Dubai International Financial Center to facilitate investment in Somaliland.
“Its role will be to create, joint venture companies with investors from different parts of the world and it will be a facilitating company basically where the companies would be working in Somaliland but the formation will take place here in Dubai,” Shire said.