Saturday, April 05, 2008

Somaliland hospitality

What a day of Somali hospitality. Seldom have I met such friendly people. It's a full day of free lunch, free tea and coffee sessions, and free drive around by people I have not known 24 hours before. All of them are so welcoming and glad to see tourists to their country, which is seeking international recognition 17 years after they broke away from Somalia, which remains wrecked by civil war. All of them are anxious to emphasise that Somaliland is peaceful, safe, and interested in development and stability. Many told me, either in English or through translators, tell the world about us and come again.

I was even brought to the Horn of Africa, the country's 2nd largest Somali language newspaper for an interview about my travels and what I think about Somaliland, and they said it would be published for tomorrow's edition.

The head of the country's largest NGO, whom I met yesterday on the plane, Mr Ahmad Ali, brought me to his office to tell me more about their operations which include helping widows, the handicapped and landmine-maimed, and brought me to meet his wife and children too. He drove me around for half a day and then handled me over to his finance officer, who showed me different places in Hargeisa and meet his friends.

Tomorrow, the hotel owner of Oriental Hotel, where I stay, will bring me to the Ministry of Tourism. Hopefully I will get to visit the country's spectacular ancient rock paintings.

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