OP-ED: UAE Corridor Deal: Somalia's Potential Role as the Gateway between the Middle East and South Asia


In recent years, the global geopolitical stage has been evolving at an unprecedented pace. The latest development, the UAE corridor deal, signifies not just the strategic importance of the region, but also underscores the potential of Somalia to emerge as a linchpin connecting the Middle East with South Asia.

The UAE corridor deal is more than just a business transaction. It speaks to a rapidly shifting global economy and the rising significance of trade routes that bypass traditional chokepoints. The Strait of Hormuz and the Suez Canal, while historically crucial, have seen increasing risks from geopolitical tensions and natural incidents. As countries look for alternative routes to ensure smooth trade flow, corridors that offer safety, efficiency, and strategic advantages become highly valuable.

Somalia's Geographic Advantage, Situated in the Horn of Africa, possesses a unique geographic advantage. Overlooking the Arabian Sea and directly facing the Gulf states, it acts as a natural gateway between the Middle East and South Asia. With the UAE corridor deal, Somalia's potential is magnified exponentially.

Somalia's coastline, one of the longest in mainland Africa, harbors several ports, with Berbera and Mogadishu being the most prominent. If developed and managed efficiently, these ports can facilitate a seamless movement of goods, making Somalia a critical hub in the global trade network.

Beyond its geographic significance, the corridor deal can also pave the way for an economic renaissance in Somalia. A nation that has been beleaguered by internal strife and economic challenges can leverage this opportunity to foster growth, attract foreign investments, and generate employment. The development of ports, logistics, and ancillary infrastructure can transform Somalia from being just a strategic point to a regional economic powerhouse.

While the opportunities are evident, challenges remain. The security situation in Somalia, due to domestic conflicts and threats from extremist groups, needs addressing. A stable and secure Somalia is not only beneficial for the Somali people but also crucial for the nations eyeing its strategic potential. The UAE, with its investment and interest in the region, can play a significant role in bolstering security measures.

The UAE corridor deal is a testament to the changing dynamics of global trade. As the world pivots towards new routes and hubs, Somalia stands at the cusp of playing a transformative role. Leveraging its geographic location, it can bridge the Middle East and South Asia, making it a cornerstone in the future of global trade. The next few years will be crucial in determining how Somalia navigates its potential and challenges, but the horizon is undoubtedly promising.

Somalia's Moment to Steer Its Own Course

The dynamism of the global geopolitical landscape, epitomized by the UAE corridor deal, underscores a clear message: nations can no longer afford to be passive players on the international stage. Especially for countries like Somalia, which has a unique potential to bridge the Middle East and South Asia, the moment is ripe to claim its stake.

Traditionally, larger and more influential nations or entities have dictated the terms of engagement in the region, often acting as intermediaries or "middlemen" in crucial deals. The UAE's recent direct involvement in corridor negotiations showcases the urgency of nations to ensure their strategic interests without third-party involvement.

It's time for the Somali government to recognize and harness its power in this equation. With a coastline that could be the envy of many, and ports like Berbera and Mogadishu, Somalia's potential isn’t just geographic, it's economic. But to realize this potential fully, Somalia must be the primary negotiator of its future.

The nation has to approach the table with confidence, advocating for the best interests of its people, its economy, and its strategic partners. Relying on intermediaries might have been the norm in the past, but the evolving geopolitical scenario demands direct involvement. This ensures clarity, reduces chances of miscommunication or conflicting interests, and most importantly, gives Somalia a clear voice and stake in decisions that impact its future.

The UAE corridor deal is not just a wake-up call for the nations involved; it's a clarion call for all countries, especially ones with untapped potential like Somalia. It’s a testament to the changing dynamics of global trade and diplomacy. For Somalia, the message is clear: The future can be shaped directly by its hands, without the need for intermediaries. The ball is in Somalia's court; it's time to play it wisely.

Ismail D. Osman: Former Deputy Director of Somalia National Intelligence & Security Agency (NISA) – Writes in Somalia, Horn of Africa Security and Geopolitical focusing on governance and security. You can reach him osmando@gmail.com @osmando

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Garowe Online's editorial stance.


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