Minister from autonomous region looking at free zone idea as well as tax reduction measures

 By Alexander Cornwell

Dubai: Somaliland, an autonomous region in the Horn of Africa, wants to replicate the “Dubai model” in a bid to attract foreign investment, develop infrastructure and generate employment opportunities.

“We are looking at … building free zones like Jebel Ali. We have already created a tax regime that reduce tax on foreign investment … In many ways we are looking up to the Dubai model of business promotion, ” Mohammad A. Omar, Minister of Commerce & Foreign Investment, told Gulf News.

Omar was on a visit to the UAE last week where he met with representatives from both the local private and public sector in effort to boost Somaliland’s credentials on international development.

Located in East Africa, along the Gulf of Aden, Somaliland shares its borders with Djibouti, Ethiopia and Somalia but is not a country in its own right. In 1991 Somaliland declared independence from Somalia but has struggled to gain international recognition. The majority-Muslim African country has its own government, military, policy, currency and even passport; though the latter two are recognised by very few countries, if any.

Assessment tests

Rich in natural resources Somaliland has already handed concessions to British-based Oil Company Genel Energy, who are currently undertaking assessment tests in the African region, and RAK Gas from the UAE, among others. Omar said the Somaliland government will be approaching other oil and gas companies, including from the UAE, to apply for further concessions.

Omar said he had met with officials from Sharjah Aviation Authority, Sharjah Aviation Services and Air Arabia to discuss the development and operation of Egal International Airport, located in Somaliland’s capital Hargeisa, and Berbera Airport. Sharjah Aviation Authority and Sharjah Aviation Services did not return requests for comment while Air Arabia have denied their involvement any such discussions.

“Air Arabia wishes to make it clear that it has not gone into any partnership with authorities in Somaliland and has no current plans to do so. However, the airline is aware that there are ongoing talks between Sharjah Aviation Services and Somaliland authorities about potential collaboration,” an Air Arabia spokesperson said.

Contentious issue

Egal International and Berbera Airpor recently underwent a major facelift following a $10 million (Dh36.7 million) grant from the Kuwaiti government. Omar said there is huge potential for aviation services in Somaliland with its population of around 3.5 million. He added that the region also has a large international diaspora and is near countries such as Ethiopia which has a population of 90 million. He said he would like to see a carrier from the Middle East operating an East Africa hub out of Egal International.

But foreign investor confidence remains a contentious issue for Somaliland, which has operated as a country for the past 20 years despite not being internationally recognised. This week government ministers from Somaliland and Somalia will meet in Turkey for another round of talks on Somaliland’s bid for independence.

Omar said Somaliland’s participation in the global economy and its ability to provide security and stability to the region “must be rewarded by the international community with political recognition”.

Pressed about the Arab Spring, the presence of Al Qaida in North Africa and Al Shabab in Somalia, and general instability in Africa, Omar said Somaliland is immune to all that, “despite being part of a tough neighbourhood”. He pointed to Somaliland’s growing economy and democratic government.

Source: Gulf



  1. Am not sure and don't understand what the report by Alexander Cornwell is all about.?
    It smells many bad news for Somaliland's status quo, as if it doesn't exist as a country.

  2. Mohamed Abdillahi needs to watch what he says and how he says things. This is not the right time to have an oral diarrhea and oral diarrhea it seems is what he is having here. He prematurely made statements in the UAE and I do not know whether he was sub-attaching the talks with UAE company or doesn't understand the consequences of what he is doing in either way he comes through as an ignorant person, who is not fit to negotiate on behave of the Republic of Somaliland.

    The damages done by Mohamed Abdillahi is not only limited to this most recent visit to the UAE but we all remember the infamous Somalia investment conference in Nairobi, where he participated without the approval or knowledge of the government of the Republic of Somaliland.

  3. We have seen signing ceremony on the TV, and I don't understand why this author is trying to say. We the people of Somaliland should not make hasty comments that is negative.

  4. This gentleman needs to get his facts together before he sends them for print and am talking to one, Mr. Alexander Cornwell. He needs to explained this Cake Stabbing ceremony below, taken place inside the premise of Air Arabia HQ and by invitation ONLY! What is this, Photoshop ed???.

    2ndly, I would also like to suggest to the Silanyo Administration and the Minister for Commerce and Investment in particular to travel with aids and refrain from the One Man Show he has been know for whilst a Foreign Minister. Get a brother to lean ON while on these long and lonely missions abroad. One Man Show always raises an eyebrow.

    Chief K

  5. Both Omar and the minister of aviation are gate-less oral diarrhea pipes and are familiar to mislead and issue false statements. The Arabia incident is not the first one nor would it be the last

  6. Again all this hatred either contribute to the country and fix what you think is a problem or shut it. Constantly calling people names on a comment section only shows your ignorance and malice. Besides where were you lot what riyale was robbing the treasury, I didnt hear yall screaming thief but let someone who is actually building the country get a seat and you wanna talk. Check yourself