Ilyas Dawaleh: The man who wants to make Djibouti the next Dubai

Ilyas Dawaleh was a businessman before be entered politics and rose to become Djibouti’s Minister of Economy and Finance. Antonie Robertson / The National

Ilyas Dawaleh has an ambition: he wants to make his country the Dubai of Africa, and he is getting plenty of help from the UAE to help him achieve that.

Mr Dawaleh is the minister of economy and finance of Djibouti, the small but strategically situated country on the Horn of Africa. It commands the entrance to the Red Sea and acts as an entrepôt for the landlocked countries in East Africa such as Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Location is its blessing but also, Mr Dawaleh recognises, its challenge. In the midst of unstable neighbours such as Somalia and South Sudan, with Yemen just 29 kilometres away across the Bab el Mandeb (Gate of Anguish) straits, Djibouti nonetheless would like to a be a safe commercial haven for East Africa, as Dubai is for the Arabian Gulf.

Read more: The man who wants to make Djibouti the next Dubai | The National.