DP World launches expansion of port in Somaliland

The soporific seaside town of Berbera is slowly transforming as it takes on a major role on the Red Sea shipping route, allowing breakaway Somaliland to dream of prosperity and even recognition. (AFP)
Updated 12 October 2018

DP World launches expansion of port in Somaliland

  • Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto independent state since then but is not internationally recognized
  • DP World said the first phase of expansion will consist of constructing a 400-meter quay as well as the development of a free-zone

HARGEYSA: Dubai state-owned port operator DP World has launched a $101 million project to expand a port in the breakaway region of Somaliland.
Somaliland broke away from Somalia in 1991 and has acted as a de-facto independent state since then but is not internationally recognized. The United Arab Emirate’s Dubai government owns DP World.
The port in Berbera exports camels to the Middle East and imports food and other items, but Somaliland hopes it will provide an alternative for neighboring Ethiopia — a landlocked country of 100 million which relies on Djibouti for its trade.
DP World said the first phase of expansion will consist of constructing a 400-meter quay as well as the development of a free-zone, with Emirati firm Shafa Al Nahda the contractor.
“This investment in Berbera ... and the expansion is of a huge benefit for Somaliland to develop its economy. We are thinking to be competitive with our ports in the region,” Muse Bihi Abdi, the breakaway region’s president, told journalists.
The first phase is part of an expansion deal signed with DP World in 2016 and worth a total of $442 million.
DP World’s chairman and chief executive Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said Berbera would serve Ethiopia’s expanding economy and its increasing trade.
“We did not get assurances from them. (But) they need every port capacity in Ethiopia. It is only a matter of opening the port and making sure the road is there,” he said in a news conference.
But the launch comes amid opposition from Somalia, which believes its sovereignty is being violated. Senior officials have said such deals “bypassed the legitimate authority” of Mogadishu.
Bihi Abdi dismissed the claim. He said agreements with such international firms would boost the country’s quest to achieve international recognition.
“Because when DP World came to Berbera, there was attention from other countries and big business companies because most of them were thinking that Somaliland was not a recognized country and ignored the peace and stability in Somaliland,” he said in a news conference in Hargeysa.
“DP World was a big, international company which dared to come to Somaliland and I hope a lot of other companies from any continent will follow their path and come to Somaliland.”


Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

Updated 21 October 2019

Japan’s Uniqlo pulls ad after South Korean fury

  • South Korean and Japanese relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism
  • Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes
SEOUL: Japanese retail giant Uniqlo has pulled a commercial featuring a 98-year-old US fashion figure from South Korean screens, it said Monday after it was accused of whitewashing colonial history.
South Korea and Japan are both US allies, democracies and market economies faced with an overbearing China and nuclear-armed North Korea, but their relationship is deeply strained by the legacy of Tokyo’s 20th-century expansionism.
The latest example is an advert for Uniqlo fleeces showing elderly fashion celebrity Iris Apfel chatting with designer Kheris Rogers, 85 years her junior.
The last line has the white-haired Apfel, asked how she used to dress as a teenager, innocuously responding: “Oh my God. I can’t remember that far back.”
But Uniqlo’s Korean arm subtitled its version of the ad slightly differently, reading: “I can’t remember things that happened more than 80 years ago.”
That would put the moment as 1939, toward the end of Japan’s brutal colonial rule over the Korean peninsula, where the period is still bitterly resented, and some South Koreans reacted furiously.
“A nation that forgets history has no future. We can’t forget what happened 80 years ago that Uniqlo made fun of,” commented one Internet user on Naver, the country’s largest portal.
The phrase “Uniqlo, comfort women,” in reference to women forced to become sex slaves to Japanese troops during the Second World War, was among the most searched terms on Naver at the weekend, and demonstrators protested outside Uniqlo shops on Monday.
Seoul and Tokyo are currently locked in a bitter trade and diplomatic row stemming from historical disputes, and South Korean consumers have mounted boycotts of Japanese products.
Uniqlo — which has 186 stores in South Korea — has itself been one of the highest-profile targets, while Japanese carmakers’ sales dropped nearly 60 percent year-on-year in September.
The company denied the allegations in a statement, saying the text was altered to highlight the age gap between the individuals and show that its fleeces were for people “across generations.”
“The ad had no intention whatsoever to imply anything” about colonial rule, a Uniqlo representative said on Monday, adding the firm had withdrawn the ad in an effort at damage control.
Analysts said the controversy demonstrated the politicization of the neighbors’ complex history.
The reaction was excessive, said Kim Sung-han, a former foreign affairs vice minister who teaches at Korea University, involving a “jump in logic” that “assumes everything Uniqlo does is political as a Japanese company.”
“I don’t see how her remark could be linked to the comfort women issue,” he added. “This is overly sensitive.”