Qatar FM arrives in Somalia on surprise visit; inks $170M port project
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Qatari Foreign Minister and deputy PM, Sheikh Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani made an unannounced visit to Mogadishu, the Somali capital on Monday, Garowe Online reports.
Qatari FM accompanied by Minister of Transport and Communications Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti and other top officials received a warm welcome at Mogadishu airport from Somali deputy Prime Minister.
After the cordial reception, the delegation has been escorted to the presidential palace, where Al Thani was received by Somali PM, Hassan Ali Khaire and subsequently held a meeting on a range of key issues.
“I am delighted to receive the high-level delegation from State of Qatar led by Deputy PM and Minister of Foreign Affairs H.E Sheikh Mohammad Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani,” said Somali PM on a Twitter post.
According to a statement released by the office of the Prime Minister, Qatar eyes major infrastructural projects in the war-torn Horn of Africa country, including the development of the ancient port of Hobyo.
During the meeting, Qatar’s Minister for Transport and Communications, Jassim Bin Saif inked a $170 million deal with his Somali counterpart, Maryam Aweys to construct Hobyo port in Galmudug state.
Doha developed close diplomatic and defense cooperation with Mogadishu since the Somali Federal Government of announced its neutral stance on the Gulf crisis and the blockade on Qatar on June 5, 2017.
On November 2017, Qatar Development Fund (QDF) signed an agreement with Somalia's Minister of Planning Jamal Mohamed Hassan to implement various development projects worth $200 million.
QDF Director Khalifa bin Jassim said the projects included modernization of government buildings and construction of two 30-KM roads linking the capital, Mogadishu to Afgoye and Bal'ad.
Although Somalia says it maintains neutral stance regarding the GCC crisis, this Qatari deal with Somalia government sparks suspicion among the Saudi-led coalition and puts a question mark on the said neutrality since also Turkey who is the biggest Qatar ally maintains major investments in Mogadishu.