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Djibouti Annuls Dubai Ports Concession Contract

In a press release issued on Thursday, the Djiboutian government said, it “has decided to proceed with the unilateral termination, with immediate effect, of the concession contract awarded to DP World for the operation of the Doreleh Container Terminal (DCT).”

In 2006, Dubai Ports World (DPW) signed a 30-year concession to operate the container terminal in the port of Djibouti. The container terminal opened in 2009.

For the last 6 years, unfruitful negotiation between the two partners continued for a renegotiated settlement of the deal that Djibouti considers unfair and sovereign.

In the statement, Djibouti said the government “decided to proceed with the unilateral termination of the concession contract” DP World said the termination of the contract aims at forcing it “to renegotiate the terms of the concession”. It also said it has started a lawsuit to reverse the Djiboutian decision.

In a patronizing language, DP World said the partnership with Djibouti “has yielded hundreds of millions of dollars of direct and indirect benefits to Djibouti and enhanced its attractiveness as a leading investment destination in East Africa.”

UAE news reports echoed the same language stating that DP World “is the largest employer and biggest source of revenue in the country.”

Djibouti insists the contract undermines the sovereignty of Djibouti and that DP World refused to settle the issue amicably “forcing Djibouti to take a unilateral decision to abrogate the concession contract.”

Abdourahman Boreh

In 2014, Djibouti accused DP World of bribing Abdourahman Boreh, the head of Djibouti’s port authority, to get a favorable deal and started to challenge the contract. But a commercial court in London has exonerated Abdurahman Boreh of misconduct. Boreh lives in Abu Dhabi.

According to Garowe Online, “Djibouti’s richest man Abdirahman [sic] Boreh appeared during a signing event held for [an] agreement signed by Somaliland and [the] Dubai-based firm.”

Some regional politicians also accuse Boreh of engineering the DPW expansion in the region. In addition, Eritrean opposition sources also implicate Abdourahman Boreh of brokering a deal to help the UAE to get a foothold in Eritrea where it has established a military base on the Red Sea shores north of the port of Assab.

After the 1998-2000 Ethiopian-Eritrean border war, in which close to a hundred thousand soldiers were killed from both sides, Assab became off-limits to the Ethiopian economy. Since then, Djibouti has become the main gateway for Ethiopia’s sea trade.

In January 2018, Ethiopia inaugurated the Chinese built modern Addis-Djibouti railway. The new railway decreased the old 3-day travel time to only 8-hours. Transportation on the electric powered 759-kilometer long railway line, built at a cost of US$3.5 billion, is being served by a stock of 41 locomotives, and 1,130 coaches and wagons.

However, DP World has made deals with Somaliland to operate in the Port of Berbera which lies in the Indian Ocean, 150 miles south of Djibouti, and constitutes a direct competition to Djibouti.

UAE’s Ambitious Expansion

Regional politicians suspicious of the UAE’s ambitious military and financial goals perceive the DP World as a facade pushing the UAE’s strategy of expansion in the region. They claim that “by pitting the region’s countries against each other” the UAE wishes to position itself as a perpetual regional patron. They accuse the UAE of having “devised a scheme to have a military and economic control while it watches the regional countries engage in a cutthroat competition instead of thinking of cooperation and economic integration.”

DP World is said to be luring Ethiopia to use Berbera at the expense of Djibouti—the main customer of both ports is Ethiopia, the most populous country in the region. But given Ethiopia’s heavy investment in Djibouti–the railway line, and other infrastructure–it is unlikely for Ethiopia to switch its main sea outlet from Djibouti to either Berbera or any other port in the foreseeable future.

In the last decade, the UAE has been pursuing an aggressive foreign policy and aspiring to become a regional military and financial hegemon. To that end, it has established many military bases around Bab El Mendeb, including one near the Eritrean port of Assab. It also has bases across the Red Sea in Southern Yemen, where it has been bombing Yemen in collaboration with Saudi Arabia since 2015.

The UAE has an estimated population of 6 million, comprising of about 12% UAE nationals, and 88% expatriates from almost all parts of the world. The two countries that have a population larger than the UAE citizens are India with 27%, and Pakistan with 13%. Some recent estimate puts the UAE population at about 9 million.

Looting Trees from Socotra

In 2008, the Indian Ocean island of Socotra, which lies about 300 km off the coast of Aden was designated a UNESCO heritage site. Recent Yemeni reports indicate that the UAE forces have uprooted and transported rare trees from Socotra to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Socotra is the habitat of some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world, but with the presence of a military base, and the uprooting of its rare trees, the island faces irreversible environmental damages.

About Awate Team

The PENCIL is's editorial and it reflects the combined opinions of the Awate Team and not the individual opinion of team members.

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  • Amanuel

    Hi Hope
    Thanks for the explanation. I knew it was some sort of Bilen and asked a friend who is Bilen ( she grew up in Sudan) and told me she only knows a word closer “deshkli”. Then I thought better to hear from the horse’s mouth.

  • Amanuel

    Hi Hope
    What do you mean by “Eshkile”?

  • Oh Hope, you are dragging me into a low-level discussion, i really hate, and it will help a lot if we keep it at a higher level. I will post this, unfortunately a tit-for-tat response, and stop, with the aim that you could be aware of the level of discussion we are having at awate university.

    First explain to me,
    1) why eritrean askaris were fighting and dying for italians in libya, somalia, and ethiopia, and they did not revolt with the guns in hand issued to them by italians?
    2) do you know how many eritreans died and lost limbs fighting for italians in libya, somalia and ethiopia?

    I cannot answer for the american policy in the region, and i unequivocally oppose what they have done and continue to do all over the world to defend the so-called american interest (i call it american greed, which created the usa), and what the unholy coalition against yemen is doing against the people of yemen.

    • Hope

      Come on Doc:
      No need to degrade any human being let alone HOPE here at his OWN home of THE Awate Univ!

      U rather put urself into the lowest level by posting childish comments about that GIANT “tiny” UAE.

      Me and Blink told you the FACTS as they are .
      Get it real and answer my questions first.’
      The case of the Poor Eritrean Askaris of the 1930s has nothing to do with the world business of the 21st century.

      The Eritreans were abused and tortured and had done things against their wishes.
      Case in point ,as a reminder,it was the sons and the daughters of the same Eritrean Askaris that,NOT ONLY built the Ethiopian Infrastructure from head to toe,but also,of UTMOST importance,that FREED Ethiopia and Ethiopians from the oppression of their own Leaders.
      U sound and u R acting like the Abi of the old bygone days.

      But here is the follow up question:
      -Why do u think your own oppressive successive regimes with FULL SUPPORT of their masters have destroyed andcstill trying to destroy Innocent Eritrea and Eritreans for over SIXTY years,DUDE….and to this date!????
      -Material destruction of more than a $ 1,000,000,000,000.00

      -Destruction and displacement of Hundreds of thousands of Human lives .

      -Burning and destruction of hundreds of villages and burning Humans live and stabbing Pregnant mothers with Bayonets

      -Destruction of Democratic Infrastructure and forceful annexation of Eritrea
      Do all the above ring a bell to your ears?
      And YET,U cry crocodile tears about the Yemeni lives!
      If the sponsor if the alleged International Terrorism is trying to terrorize The UAE ,why can’t the Victim try to defend itself and its interests?
      As far as the Eri-UAE eternal Mutual Friendship is concerned ,if that is your nightmare and concern,rest assured that Eritrea and the UAE will build that FRIENDSHIP to the MAXIMUM in all aspects.

  • Amanuel

    Hi Hope
    What is the Republic of Djibouti’s crime that you are slagging it off. For being the chosen one with out hiring a lobbyist.

    I wish UAE will invest on Aseb & Massawa but unlikely considering the target customers is Ethiopia, which has already invested on Djibouti strategically and will not switch even if its relationship with Eritrean becomes normal and friendly. Ethiopian is gone for ever for Aseb & Massawa.

    • Hope

      Selam Aman:
      I thought we were also begged for without lobbying ?
      No body cried about the little Jabooty’s crime !
      U seem to be very naive about the future huge potential of Aseb and Nassawa as Ethiopia is not the only customer .
      Well,we will never beg Ethiopia either.
      Let them be bygones for ever .
      U cannot judge Eritrea by its today’s Leaders or situation.
      But mark my word though,that once that cancer is GONE for good ,your Estopia will comeback begging us like no tomorrow !
      The 1.5 Billion Potash in Ethiopia’s Dallol will suffice for Ethiopia to beg us.

      • Amanuel

        Hi Hope
        You are still being mean to Djibouti calling it little. It might be little in size but big in action, the centre of big powers.
        As per Aseb & Massawa it is not a rocket science. There are wish full thinking here and there. However not realistic, except military base. One of the crimes of the current leader of Eritrea is that he is determining what will happen in 20 and 30 years from now by depriving it meangfull infrustructure investment. Potentially South Sudan was a target apart from Ethiopia, however with the extention of Kanya’s rail way, it won’t be available when the cancer is gone. Even if Norther Ethiopia wants to use Eritrean ports it won’t be Aseb or Massawa, probably will be Tio or another new port around Bada

  • Kim Hanna

    Selam Hope,
    Can you clarify this:
    Who are the customers using the ports of Assab and Massawa? other than the military functions.
    As you know Ethiopian is now permanently connected to …’the little mercenary/proxxxxte, jabooti.’ for business purposes.
    Mr. K.H

  • Legacy

    Greetings Awate readers,

    ልምጣ እንዴ?

    That’s what መንጌ believed to have said in response to the prevailing paralysis.
    Now, if that isn’t hilarious I don’t know what is…

  • Selamat,

    Whats your game/angle, bro/sis? Futile is your endevor. Cease and desist. I ain’t gonna keep letting you slide.

    AmEritrean gitaSAtSE Azilo40 Agnyeya40 Acres and a Mule. 1Π |¥^.

  • Hope,

    You said that uae nationals are the masters and foreigners are just “slaves”. Is it possible to say that they may be outsourcing this master-slave behavior to foreign lands as well, wherever they may find themselves, especially in poor african countries, that they got kicked out of djibouti.

    You also said that it is a great military and economic power. The question is, can it sustain for long its geopolitical ambitions, by squandering billions that come mainly from oil export, buying modern military gadgets and paid mercenaries.

    Moreover, it behaves as the little roaring lion, from under the security of usa and israeli military umbrella. It is no much to iran, even combined with SA. That is why small countries should aspire for neutrality and peace, and should not try to behave like the Davids of the region.

    Another question one is forced to raise is, if it is protecting its economic interests by bombing yemen from a base in asab, and killing women and children and committing war crime with SA.

    Finally, of course, as long as the oil flows, it can afford any luxury items the west could produce, for which the west is grateful, because with others in the region, it sustains the economy of the west with billions of dollars.

    • blink

      Dear Horizon
      UAE economy is the most diversified economy in Middle East. Their economy is no more like Qatar and Saudi . Second what is the difference between sending your troops to die for a war order by America and hiring people to defend your investment? Ethiopian people were dying for American war and still do . Second UAE is a country that has its interest as any other. UAE pay their money for their interest while Ethiopia got a media cover up for the blood they give to American war . UAE is one of the oldest friends of the Eritrean people while others were abandoning, every government in Eritrea even after the dictator will continue to have that friendly connection because of their kind hand . Here it’s just a bad move by Djibouti that cross the agreement.Dijubuti will pay for this reckless decision.

      • Selam blink,

        Ethiopia is a country that is the direct target of terrorism. If ethiopians die, it is while defending ethiopia as well from terrorism. Otherwise, she would have been like kenya and uganda. If an eritrean dies in yemen fighting for uae and SA, it is while acting as a mercenary. Eritrea has no reason whatsoever to find herself in somebody else’s hegemonic war.

        Oil will remain the backbone of uae’s economy. Tourism, FDI, increase in the price of oil do not make it any different from others, because these are the dreams of all oil-dependent economies.

        Djibouti is a sovereign country and she has the right to kick out any foreign power she thinks is undermining her sovereignty.

        Qatar was also one of the oldest friends of eritrea until the dictator betrayed it and stood on the side of its enemies, uae and SA.

        The chinese or some other country will only be too glad to fill the void, and they are already doing so by constructing a new sea port, a new electric railway that is already connecting djibouti with addis, a free trade zone, a new international airport, and many more to come in the future. Ask Said. Ethiopia is going nowhere, and she will continue to work with djibouti. Therefore, Djibouti has nothing to regret about if uae leaves the scene.

        • blink

          Dear Horizon
          Pls check how diversed uae economy is and you will be surprised. Yemen is a direct border with Eritrea and it would have been miss guided to think Issaias will not take sides . I heard Qatar was at opposite of Ethiopia just few months before, diplomacy is like a casino worker . Who knows 2moro Ethiopian diplomat would go directly to Asmara than to Dijubuti, we never know what next , what we know for sure is the interest of a sovereign state can be misleading upfront about direct benefits.

          Oww Ethiopia and terror, oh Horizon aren’t weyane the best sales men for that ? How many terrorist were in Ethiopian prison and now free !! Come on we have passed that game .

          The agreement between DP and the dictator in Djibouti was for 30 years and he took them to court and get the guilty verdict. Again now he is doing the same one and he will pay for that. China ahmm I heard Dijubuti dictator was in a bad condition with chines companies, you better google about that too. We shall see how it turns out .

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam blink,
            I can almost count on you to be on the wrong side of everything every time. That is perplexing to me.
            The only explanation I have is this: You take an opposite position after you hear from us.
            For example: I don’t know anything about the land border dispute between India and China is, safe to say neither do you. I just know there is.
            Now, if I or Horizon come out and say it is the fault of India, the land belongs to China.
            I can almost guarantee you will say, no the land belongs to India it is the Chinese that are the bully.
            (You would have said the opposite had we said the otherwise….that is my new working theory)
            When you say Ethiopians are dying for U.S, I presume you mean in Somalia, do you really believe that?
            What would you say if I tell you, putting 2 and 2 together and still come over to tell you, there are NO Eritrean mercenaries at all in Yemen.
            Mr. K.H

          • blink

            Dear K.M
            I can believe what you say if you can bring an Indian long marathon runner computing in the world championships.

          • Kim Hanna

            Selam blink,
            Now you changed the subject, why do you think India with a 1.5 BILLION people to choose from can only claim one bronze medal in 2008 at the Olympics. I think Eritrea with 5 million people has a silver or bronze too, I think.
            Another unrelated topic, I read somewhere that EPRDF is going to elect the new Prime Minister tomorrow Wednesday, did you hear anything from your sources?
            Mr. K.H

          • blink

            Dear K.M
            I didn’t change the subject, it is just that you don’t get it sir . Ahmm PM well the Ethiopians are not asking for new PM or new legislative body made by EPRDF. Their question is far far away from the twisted replay of EPRDF. The protest will continue until the core problem is solved by all stakeholders. Bring Aby or another it will not make any sense. If you follow the private media of Ethiopians, the gear is already shifting to a very hard reality against the weyane driven government.

  • Mez

    Hi Hope,

    China is, any how and, in every constellation the greatest danger for PIA.


  • said

    How Djibouti Became China’s Gateway To Africa. The future Dubai of Africa.
    Djibouti, one of Africa’s smallest countries, has become China’s “strategic partner.” The Chinese have built a military base and a port, and is currently constructing a free trade zone, fast establishing it as Beijing’s gateway to the continent. Link to Germany magazine Der spiegel

    Djibouti Long home to French, US, and Japanese force , Djibouti’s location at a strategic choke point near the Red Sea, en route to the important maritime artery that is the Suez Canal. Djibouti has found its niche in its strategic position atop the shipping lanes connecting the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Djibouti Its location and Location that matters greatly to global commerce and energy, due to its vicinity to the Mandeb Strait and the Suez-Aden canal, which sees ten percent of the world’s oil exports and 20 percent of its commercial exports annually. Djibouti, a resource-poor nation of 14,300 square miles and 875,000 people in the Horn of Africa, rarely makes international headlines. But between its relative stability and strategic location—20 miles across from war-consumed Yemen and in destroyer range of the pirate-infested western edge of the Indian Ocean—it is now one of the more important security beachheads for western countries .
    Chinese-built Doraleh port in Djibouti, inaugurated in late May 2017 part of “One Belt, One Road” initiatives. “String of Pearls” is a metaphor for an envisioned network of naval ports of call, predominantly along the Indian Ocean, to secure sea lanes of transit, commerce, and communication from mainland China to Sudan. The “One Belt, One Road” initiative seeks to strengthen Chinese exports through commercial land and sea roads, largely along the historic “silk road,” straddling Europe and the Middle East. The Djibouti base would be vital in ensuring the success of the latter goal, since most of China’s $1 billion in daily exports to Europe traverse the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal. Beijing’s hard power initiative in Djibouti is meanwhile accompanied by its soft power initiatives to build ties with state and society alike. The $14 billion in Chinese support for infrastructure development, widely publicized in Djibouti, has generated enormous goodwill with the population. Far exceeding U.S. spending, the injection is also an investment in the government of President Isma’il Omar Guelleh. There are also cultural ventures, such as the new Confucius Institute in Djibouti City, which Beijing typically uses to cultivate personal ties and “assets” within the society. Beijing made its new base possible first and foremost with massive investments. These projects include a water pipeline from Ethiopia, a railway to Addis Ababa, and a new international airport 25km south of the capital, with costs totaling over US$1.2 billion. Those come alongside the mostly Chinese-funded, $600 million multipurpose port in Doraleh, which will also service the neighboring base. Djibouti has now become quite an important pivotal kind of country for China in East Africa djibouti
    According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) report released earlier this month, a surge in investment in big infrastructure projects that started in 2015, most of it financed by loans from state-backed financial institutions from China, has been a major driver of economic growth in Djibouti.The government aims to transform the country into a regional transport hub for East Africa by improving its infrastructure and most of the projects financed by China are infrastructure-related.
    Export–Import Bank of China, one of three institutional banks in China charged with implementing the state policies and not subject to Beijing’s recent capital control restrictions.

    • Kim Hanna

      Selam said,
      Thank you for your informative post. The attached article illuminates a lot of information too, I appreciated the mods. for that consideration.
      Thanks again.
      Mr. K.H

      • said

        Selam Kem
        Thank you .The rising sun from the east, China, ethnonationalism, not the ruling Communist Party, unites and inspires 1.4 billion people to displace the Americans as the first power on earth. I will be elaborating more about China will Fare Better than US.

  • said

    I link artistic and great singer STORMZY I rarely connect with rap music which is made for and by young people. But STORMZY ,he use his songs for good common cause (Grenfell )it open my closed-minded, my wrong assumption, I had my days as a millennialI .look out and see beauty in everything that’s standing and everything that moves, I realize that’s too meant for me; not owning it in the narrow possessive sense of exclusive entitlement, nevertheless, lying openly before my sight, it’s too, equally mine.
    Plush greenery, the ubiquitous sunlight at the breaking of the dawn, near sunset and in the heart of the day; the vibration of a world in motion, humans people of all colors and shape wandering around, all remind me that this is, in actuality, is my world, what a wonderful world; that I am alive; that the gift of living is seeing and feeling around, feeling blessed that being in full possession of the full faculties of the sensory perception and more, I am blessed; “Je Pense; donc, Je Suis.”
    Seeing existence in the eyes of the Divine, suddenly dawns on our souls the secret, the joy and the deep meaning of existence: livening the moment fully wrapped up in the bless of the Within, as the Without, in all its varied expressions and manifestations is the continuum of what lies within, the beauty of the mind and the soul, the primordial custody of the Divine.
    The continuous recreation of life is living the beauty in its absolute and ubiquitous expression in the fulfillment of a Grander Purpose communicated to mortals’ in the silence of the spirit, the attuned intuition of a cleansed heart, the whispers of the Divinity in the majestic silence of the soul.
    Let me brush the cacophonies of the ego to connect with the broader universe to render us humans, me and you, embraced with the spirit in our utter humility as the One and Whole.
    The stars in the sky twinkle with the smiles of the promise of tomorrow; of the light of the sun of the breaking of the dawn; the enchanting melodies of the robins trotting the pinnacles of the trees; the breeze of the sea flirting with the roses, the iris and violets; are reminders: it is a wonderful world.
    STORMZY – BLINDED BY YOUR GRACE .The artist Stormzy has brought grime well and truly into the mainstream and he’s got political. At Glastonbury he promised he would not forget about Grenfell: “I refuse to forget you, I refuse to be silenced, I refuse to neglect you,” he famously cried. And boy, did he deliver on that promise this week at the Brits. He used his platform on live television to, with rock-steady ferocity, call Theresa May a “criminal”. It was a landmark performance. “Theresa May, where’s the money for Grenfell?”

    Brother Ali – Good Lord

  • Selam All,

    Is uae a regional power, or regional spoiler? I am not sure, but I think that officials from both countries (djibouti and uae) had a serious brawl in the past .

    In actual fact uae nationals are the minority in their own land. As a small country, instead of choosing peace and neutrality, they are acting as the giant of the region. Why and for how long?

  • blink

    Dear All
    Is this news analysis the another hand of Qatar or What ? DP is an international company with operation over 40 countries from Asia , Afric, America, South America and Australia, Why this attack over a company just to please some ? The abuser is the Dictator in Djibouti not the company, yet here we have a very tiny tiny representative looks like a Qatar foreign propaganda. Get over it , the dictator will pay and that is how it’s going to end . Ethiopia will shift to Somalia not because it wanted but because the price given to them offset the investment done by borrowed money . The rate Ethiopia will get from Somalia is simply not easy to forget. The dictator will destroy the port facility in a few month because it can never ever go on like before with DP. The Eritrean opposition are awake suddenly about asseb and yet slept about Bademe and other issues? How convincing is their cry ? DP is a private owned and traded over international markets ,if some of you wanted to buy their share please do so , it is open for everyone even for Qatari sympathizers of Muslim brotherhood. By the way since when are Eritrean opposition raised an issue about land ? Who are they ? Because this is the second time the word “ some Eritrean opposition “ is coming with news analysis. The Eritrean opposition has no muscle nor they have any interest over such issues, let’s see them sit and work on organization level first. A dying half leg opposition have no value with such big regional issues. May be some are talking because they have a mouth that can’t shut up .