.....(Hal-ku-dhigyo Dhaxal-gal Noqday) = ..... President, C/raxmaan A. Cali: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland dib ayay ula soo Noqotay Qaran-nimadeedii sidaa awgeed, waa dal xor ah oo gooni u taagan maanta (18/05/1991) laga bilaabo''...>>>>> President, Maxamad I.Cigaal:''Jiritaanka Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland'' Waa mid waafaqsan xeerasha u-degsan Caalamka! Sidaa darteed, waa Qaran xaq u leh in Aduunku aqoonsado''...>>>>> President, Daahir R. Kaahin: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland waa dal diimuqraadi ah oo caalamka ka sugaya Ictiraafkiisa''...>>>>> President, Axmed M. Siilaanyo: ''Jamhuuriyadda Somaliland, Boqol sano haday ku qaadanayso helista Ictiraafkeedu way Sugaysaa! Mar dambena la midoobi mayso Somalia-Italia''.....[***** Ha Jirto J.Somaliland Oo Ha Joogto Waligeed *****].....

Monday, January 2, 2012

“Here is peace and security: Come to Somaliland.”

There are some cities that leave you speechless. There are others that will have you lulling your family to sleep as you drone on soporifically at the dinner table. But then there are cities like Hargeisa, the capital of the pseudo-country of Somaliland. That's not to say there's anything wrong with Hargeisa.

On the contrary, i actually kind of liked it. But how much can you say about a city with essentially 1 street. But “tourist attractions” are not what Hargeisa is about. It is instead the “tourist attentions”.

Times have been rough on Hargeisa, Somaliland and indeed Somalia over the last couple decades, and it shows. The toll of decades of unrest are obvious on the city's face. There is a lack of basic infrastructure, abject poverty is rampant and security remains unsure. But things are getting better. Somaliland has done remarkably well in establishing all the criteria for an independent nation.

They have a functional government, their own currency and even a large advertising, neon-esque screen lighting up the town's main square (or dare i say only square). Little by little in world is taking notice. Somaliland is increasingly popular for well-worn travellers and the NGO world is starting to set roots. But foreigners are still quite a novelty.

But there inlays the appeal. “Hello white man!” is shouted from nearly every little nook and cranny as you wander freely through the streets and markets.

This is not the hard-core war-zone some people may expect. In fact, if not for the occasional security check in and out of town or the odd traffic cop, you wouldn't notice any such armed presence as you would in Yemen or Kurdistan. These are not decapitating, kidnapping, bomb-planning pirates.

These are good honest folks genuinely happy, and curious, to see you. There are none of the false conversations to try to sell you something like you'd find in Ethiopia. Just people who want to ask you name and maybe touch your white skin.

But the overwhelming theme i had in the conversations with local is they feel the international community has turned their collective backs on Somaliland. “Please, tell friends 'bout Somaliland. Here is peace and security. Come to Somaliland. Please tell them!”These people just want to be noticed. They merely want approval from the world for the great job they've done maintaining peace and stability in a region notorious for it's anarchy and chaos.

But for those who might need more motivation than merely being a spectacle, there are a couple things to occupy a day in Hargeisa. The market is fun enough to wander around. And the camel and goat market, just outside the centre, is a great place to... well... check out goats and camel (keep in mind these are mostly desert folk and don't take too kindly to photos).

The war memorials (with a MiG jet acting like an angel on a christmas tree) is rather sobering in it's bloody depictions. But possibly the coolest site are the endless rows of money changers. The thing is, Somaliland's currency, is kind of funny.

Although the exchange rate tend to fluctuate a lot, when i was there US$1 = 5,800 SS. Not such a big deal you might think. Perhaps i should mention that the largest bill they have is the 500 SS (that's about $0.09) So the changers sit on massive piles of bills, like some sort of Duck Tales opening credits. Exchanging becomes so ridiculous that people LITERALLY take their money away in wheelbarrows!!!

There are a surprising number of excellent value for money hotels in town, namely the Oriental Hotel. Plus there are a couple of adequate eateries around the centre. It can be a bit of an issue if you plan to leave town. Technically, all foreigner must have an armed guard outside Hargeisa as they take foreigner safety seriously. This can be expensive.

However, if you visit the Police Headquarters (not the central police) 2km outside the centre, the commissionaire may grant you with a travel permit, free of charge, avoiding the whole guard nonsense.

Hargeisa will never become a major tourist destination. But it is important to realize that there is a possibility for tourism. It is true that everything could change tomorrow. So be sure to check before coming to the region.

But I was asked many times by the locals to tell you something, so here it is, “Here is peace and security. Come to Somaliland.”

Source: Joestrippenblog

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