Call for world aid to rebuild a Somalia 'at a crossroads'

LONDON // For nearly two decades, Somali and foreign leaders have met annually in the shadow of a civil war that has led to the deaths of up to one million people.
The Horn of African nation has been without an effective government for 21 years, crushed by famine and infamous for its marauding pirates.
But this year, many of the representatives of the 50 nations and international organisations gathering in London can detect what the British foreign secretary, William Hague, sees as "a glimmer of hope" for that divided land.
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, prime minister in the transitional Somali government whose mandate ends in August, yesterday described his country as being "at a crossroads" and said he hoped the conference would deliver a internationally financed aid package to rebuild Somalia.
"It is at a very critical juncture in its history," he said in a BBC radio interview. "We are moving from an era of warlordism, terrorism, extremism and piracy and we are moving into an era of peace, stability and normalcy. Twenty years of lawlessness, violence and chaos is enough. Somalis are ready to move on."
Inevitably, a shadow over the proceedings will be cast by those who are not there, especially the militants of Al Shabab who, despite recent setbacks, control large chunks of central and southern Somalia, and who last week aligned themselves with Al Qaeda.
The sort of measure expected from today's conference, attended by the UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon and Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, was illustrated by an announcement on Tuesday that Britain, with help from the Netherlands, will fund an intelligence centre in the Seychelles to coordinate action against pirates.
The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, this week described piracy as "inseparable" from efforts to create a stable state and Mr Hague said he believed the Seychelles operation would "allow the international community to target the kingpins of piracy".
He said: "For too long, the international community has focused its efforts on the young desperate men who are sent out to sea, without seeking to hold to account those who finance and enable huge pirate operations."
Britain is also to donate £150,000 (Dh866,000) through the UN to help create a maritime security office in a stable part of Somalia to coordinate action on the ground against the pirates.
Yesterday, the UN Security Council authorised an increase in African troops from 12,000 to 17,000 in Somalia in an effort to defeat the Al Shabab militants.
Such initiatives are long overdue, according to George McKillop, managing director of Haymarket Risk, a London-based firm of international security specialists.
"The issues surrounding security and piracy in Somalia must be tackled immediately. The situation has deteriorated dramatically in recent years," he said yesterday.
"There is no way anything will improve without coordinated international action and sanctioning of armed guards on ships."
The conference will also launch an international "rapid response" fund to establish schools, hospitals, police and courts in areas freed from Al Shabab control.
The UAE, Britain and Scandinavian countries are understood to have committed millions of dollars to the fund.
Britain, which will also today announce aid packages for a quarter of a million Somali refugees in Kenya and Ethiopia, admits to having a vested interest in Somalia returning to some form of normality: intelligence analysts believe that about 50 UK citizens are undergoing training at Al Shabab terror camps. "The security threat is real - it is substantial," the UK prime minister, David Cameron, said in an interview with the Somali service of the BBC.
Hopes of political progress in Somalia were boosted by the meeting last weekend when the Somali president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the leaders of the pro-government militia, Al Sunna Wal Jamaaca, and officials from the semiautonomous region of Galmudug, reached agreement on a blueprint for a federal government when the transitional government's mandate expires.
But according to Abdirashid Duale, of the money-transfer business Dahabshiil, Somalia's largest private sector employer, the key test for today's conference rests in how successful it can be in encouraging social entrepreneurship in the region.
* With additional reporting by Joe Lauria in New York????????

Company profile

Name: WallyGPT
Started: 2014
Founders: Saeid and Sami Hejazi
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Investment raised: $7.1 million
Number of staff: 20
Investment stage: Pre-seed round


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Ain Issa camp:
  • Established in 2016
  • Houses 13,309 people, 2,092 families, 62 per cent children
  • Of the adult population, 49 per cent men, 51 per cent women (not including foreigners annexe)
  • Most from Deir Ezzor and Raqqa
  • 950 foreigners linked to ISIS and their families
  • NGO Blumont runs camp management for the UN
  • One of the nine official (UN recognised) camps in the region
The Sandman

Creators: Neil Gaiman, David Goyer, Allan Heinberg

Stars: Tom Sturridge, Boyd Holbrook, Jenna Coleman and Gwendoline Christie

Rating: 4/5


Director: Atlee

Stars: Shah Rukh Khan, Nayanthara, Vijay Sethupathi

Rating: 4/5

What is the FNC?

The Federal National Council is one of five federal authorities established by the UAE constitution. It held its first session on December 2, 1972, a year to the day after Federation.
It has 40 members, eight of whom are women. The members represent the UAE population through each of the emirates. Abu Dhabi and Dubai have eight members each, Sharjah and Ras al Khaimah six, and Ajman, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain have four.
They bring Emirati issues to the council for debate and put those concerns to ministers summoned for questioning. 
The FNC’s main functions include passing, amending or rejecting federal draft laws, discussing international treaties and agreements, and offering recommendations on general subjects raised during sessions.
Federal draft laws must first pass through the FNC for recommendations when members can amend the laws to suit the needs of citizens. The draft laws are then forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. 
Since 2006, half of the members have been elected by UAE citizens to serve four-year terms and the other half are appointed by the Ruler’s Courts of the seven emirates.
In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women. Women also represented 48 per cent of all voters and 67 per cent of the voters were under the age of 40.


Developer: SCE Studio Cambridge
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Console: PlayStation, PlayStation 4 and 5
Rating: 3.5/5


Qualifier A, Muscat

(All matches to be streamed live on 


Friday, February 18: 10am Oman v Nepal, Canada v Philippines; 2pm Ireland v UAE, Germany v Bahrain 

Saturday, February 19: 10am Oman v Canada, Nepal v Philippines; 2pm UAE v Germany, Ireland v Bahrain 

Monday, February 21: 10am Ireland v Germany, UAE v Bahrain; 2pm Nepal v Canada, Oman v Philippines 

Tuesday, February 22: 2pm Semi-finals 

Thursday, February 24: 2pm Final 

UAE squad:Ahmed Raza(captain), Muhammad Waseem, Chirag Suri, Vriitya Aravind, Rohan Mustafa, Kashif Daud, Zahoor Khan, Alishan Sharafu, Raja Akifullah, Karthik Meiyappan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Zafar Farid, Mohammed Boota, Mohammed Usman, Rahul Bhatia


Engine: 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 750hp at 7,500rpm
Torque: 800Nm at 5,500rpm
Transmission: 7 Speed dual-clutch auto
Top speed: 332kph
Fuel consumption: 12.2L/100km
On sale: Year end
Price: From Dh1,430,000 (coupe); From Dh1,566,000 (Spider)


Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
Max power: 700hp at 7,500rpm
Max torque: 720Nm at 2,250rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
0-100km/h: 3.0sec
Top speed: 330kph
Price: From Dh1.14 million ($311,000)
On sale: Now

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

Thor: Love and Thunder

Director: Taika Waititi 

Stars: Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Christian Bale, Russell Crowe, Tessa Thompson, Taika Waititi

Rating: 4/5


Director: Tamer Ruggli

Starring: Nadine Labaki, Fanny Ardant

Rating: 3.5/5