Mogadishu is coming to life, again. These days, Mogadishu’s beautiful beaches are a hive of activity. Nestled in northern Mogadishu, the popular hangout spot, Liido Beach, is surrounded by beautiful beach hotels and restaurants, which are a favourite weekend getaway for many local residents who go there to relax and enjoy their days away from the hustle and bustle of Mogadishu City.
Over the years—thanks to the increasing peace and stability that Mogadishu is enjoying—the city, and in particular its sprawling beaches, have seen an increase in the number of ordinary people visiting them for business and for pleasure. The peace dividend is paying off in many ways, with Somalis from the diaspora also returning and investing heavily in the hotel and hospitality industry.
According to the World Bank report of August 2019, Somalia’s “real GDP is projected to grow by 3.0–3.5 percent, an outlook predicated on extension of the security gains and policy reforms the authorities have achieved to date,” the report indicated in part. Mobile money transfers have revolutionized business in Somalia and transactions are easy and fast.
Today, the pristine waters of the ocean are beckoning.
Liido Beach is a stretch of gorgeous sandy beach approximately two kilometres long in the north of the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, overlooking the Indian Ocean. The name Liido derives from the Italian word for ‘beach’. In the 1970’s and early 80’s the beach was full of foreign tourists, and many locals. Today, as Somalia rebuilds after years of armed conflict, security in and around Mogadishu is very tight. For everyone’s insurance, there are several checkpoints manned by heavily armed police and paramilitary officers before one gets to Liido.
For friends and family
On Fridays, which are weekends in Somalia, it is now a common feature to see hundreds of residents; young and old, mothers and fathers, boys and girls, flock to Liido Beach to dine, swim, play beach soccer or, simply, take a boat ride across the waters. Local businesspeople enjoy brisk business hiring out boats and luminous bright floaters for the less confident swimmers. Several hotels and restaurants offer freshly squeezed fruit juices, food and fresh fish, a variety of seafood and the choicest of Somalia’s cuisine.
With improving peace and security as well as expanding business opportunities across the country, Mogadishu is witnessing a construction boom and is now home to several thriving businesses. International investors are coming in, and the locals are renowned for their industrious nature and entrepreneurship.
Somalia is witnessing an impressive growth of its aviation sector, and Mogadishu’s Aden Abdulle International Airport now attracts some of the world’s best-known international airlines. Turkish Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopia Airlines, and Qatar Airlines operate regular flights into Mogadishu and, recently, Uganda Airlines joined the growing list of international and regional airlines that now fly into Somalia. Inside the international airport, a Turkish company has constructed a 5-star hotel, the first of its kind, the Decale Hotel with exquisite rooms, including luxurious presidential suites.
Across town, the first gated community called Dar-u-Salaam is now complete, with its impressive villas, a children’s park, school, hospital and shops. The face of Mogadishu is changing, and changing fast.
In late November, the second Mogadishu Tech Summit, an annual gathering of tech savvy, digital entrepreneurs and innovators has just successfully been held, attracting over 5 000 visitors, the majority of whom were youth. A women-owned cosmetic company called Sadra Beauty Company, started and run by three university graduates, won this year’s coveted Khalid Innovation Trophy that came with a US $5 000.00 cash prize.
Salaam Bank pledged US $5 million for the next three years to be made available to innovators and entrepreneurs, with access to the funds provided through iRise, Somalia’s first-ever technology innovation hub which promotes collaboration between innovators and investors, while also offering resources needed by budding entrepreneurs and startups, such as business training, mentorship, project evaluation and support during the incubation stages of their projects. Last year, Premier Bank injected US $1 million into the tech summit, with close to a quarter of that amount already disbursed to emerging innovators and entrepreneurs.
“If we want to grow and develop our economy it is very important that we invest in technology and encourage entrepreneurs,” Shuayb Mohamed, Chief Executive Officer of Salaam Bank said.
The Mogadishu of the past no longer remains; it has been replaced by the hustle and bustle of any capital city in Africa. The signs of progress abound, as Mogadishu continues to reclaim her position as an economic contributor to the Horn of Africa.