When one thinks about a possible vacation destination for the next family trip, the European havens of Paris, Rome, and Barcelona may come to mind. Maybe an exotic Asian voyage to Bangkok or a beach trip to a Caribbean island. There are countless beautiful and picturesque places in the world worthy of visiting, and the next time families are planning their vacations, the seaside Somali capital of Mogadishu may be added to the bucket list.
Yes, you read that right: war-torn Somalia, an up and coming tourist hotspot.
The September 2012 election of Hassan Sheikh Mohammed has been hailed as a “great step forward” for Somalia and is the reason for the nation’s slow but sure move to increased stability. With the first fair election in Mogadishu in 42 years and the subsequent ouster of Al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab, Mogadishu has been somewhat transformed, being controlled under central authority and experiencing the return of private investors.
For many, this may be a bit of a strange claim to make. It seems that every time Somalia is making headlines it’s for the violence and terrorism that plagues the west African nation. However, Mogadishu has seen what experts call an “economic renaissance” lately, with the Somali diaspora coming back to rebuild their homeland, in collaboration with entrepreneurs who never left.
Mogadishu has experienced a construction boom not only in the real estate and hospitality industries, but also in telecommunications and aviation. In fact, independent Somali airlines have recently opened up their flights to 15 domestic and international routes flown every day.
The city itself offers everything one would expect a seaside paradise to look like. Beautiful beaches and luxurious poolside resorts, surrounded by the blue waters of the Indian Ocean. The remnants of Italian colonization are apparent in the street cafes and merchants selling loaves of Italian bread and cappuccinos on the roadside.
Despite all these attractions and Mogadishu’s recent growth despite its battle scars, it is not yet a perfect paradise, as it still remains a conflict zone. Security continues to be an issue as some terrorist insurgents are still present and occasionally launch terror attacks. Despite the fact that most of al-Shabaab has been kicked out, some of its members have “melted into the population” and hidden in the city. However, Somali security forces have successfully obstructed many of the suicide attacks and have detained numerous al-Shabab members remaining in Mogadishu.
Mogadishu’s stance as a future tourism hotspot is debatable. It is clear that Somalia in general has still a long way to go, but one can only hope that greater private investment may deter lawless behavior, and turn Mogadishu into a vacation paradise in the long run.
– Elisha-Kim Desmangles