Dubai : As a momentous year draws to a close, The National is running a series of articles examining the impact of the growing diplomatic strength of the UAE.
Over the next few days, we will examine the country’s growing international influence, be it through the soft power of culture and connectivity, or strengthening ties within the GCC and further around the globe.
This nation has never had a more prominent position in the world – and this series will explain how it was achieved, why it matters and what lies ahead.
When Dubai’s global port operator DP World signed a deal with Djibouti to operate Doraleh container terminal in 2008, few companies had considered investing in the tiny Horn of Africa nation, which today houses Chinese, American, French, Italian and Japanese military bases.
It heralded a new era in UAE foreign policy that placed genuine significance on the Horn of Africa, which straddles the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, vital passageways for international shipping. The quartet of nations that comprise it – Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and dominant but landlocked Ethiopia – are therefore guardians of global trade.
A decade on, ports shape political and economic alliances in the Horn. And as the region – once one of Africa’s most unstable and a locus for violent conflict – completes a stunning year of peacemaking, beginning with the appointment of Abiy Ahmed as prime minister of Ethiopia in April, the UAE’s presence there appears to be paying dividends.