Wednesday, October 24, 2012
By Majid Ahmed
A cook at Lido Seafood Restaurant prepares fresh fish and lobsters. [Majid Ahmed/Sabahi]
As security conditions improve in Mogadishu, Somali businessmen and returning expatriates have opened modern restaurants offering lobster and various kinds of fresh fish at the Lido and Jazira beaches.
"There are a limitless number of restaurants in Mogadishu, but we came up with something unique," said Qasim Mohamed Nur, marketing director at Lido Seafood Restaurant, which opened in August.
"Lido Seafood Restaurant stands out among other typical restaurants because it lies on the beach and includes entertainment facilities and tourist attractions allowing visitors -- both local residents and foreigners -- to enjoy the area's beautiful view while sampling seafood dishes," he told Sabahi.
Nur said the restaurant's customers include businessmen, politicians, government employees, returning Somali expatriates and regular workers from the area. He said the most popular dishes include lobster, tuna and shark.
Demand for seafood restaurants
"During the weekends, the restaurant is packed with customers," Nur said. "Lido Restaurant overlooks the beach, far from the noise of the city. Customers like to enjoy their seafood meals in a wonderful atmosphere, enjoying the fresh air and the beautiful ocean view."
Daud Abdirahman, a customer at Lido Seafood Restaurant, said many seafood lovers frequent the seaside restaurant.
"I love seafood and come here twice or three times a week to have fresh seafood at this restaurant," he told Sabahi while eating fresh lobster with pasta. "This is the best restaurant of choice because of its unique location overlooking the ocean."
Ahmed Sheikh Mohamed, reception manager at Mogadishu Seafood Restaurant in Hamarweyne, said there is a high demand for seafood restaurants.
"Somalis, particularly residents of coastal cities such as Mogadishu, love having seafood because they grew up in an area that has relied on fishing for ages," he told Sabahi.
Tourism projects in Mogadishu
Ahmed Hassan, who teaches history and culture at Mogadishu University, says Mogadishu has witnessed dynamic commercial activity due to improved security.
"There are a number of luxury hotels and modern restaurants that have opened their doors throughout the city," he told Sabahi. "Somali expatriates who have returned from abroad have contributed to driving development forward and creating job opportunities for hundreds of unemployed people."
"Life has returned to normal in Mogadishu and I hope the city manages to restore its past glory and that in the near future it turns into a tourist destination as it was in the 1980s when the city was one of the most prominent tourist spots in Africa," he said. "Mogadishu does not lack the potential to become a tourist destination, but it needs more recreational and tourist-related projects, in addition to reinforcing those that already exist, to strengthen the tourism sector."
Hassan called on the new federal government and the Municipality of Mogadishu to pay attention to the city's tourism sector because it can generate revenue and attract sizable foreign investment. "It is not a pre-requisite to start massive projects, as small ones are capable of growing if there is ambition and seriousness," he said.
Security still a concern
Still, insecurity remains a concern as pockets of violence sometimes flare up. On September 20th, two suicide attacks killed at least 14 people and injured 20 others at the Village Restaurant near the Mothers' House and the National Theatre. Since then, restaurant and hotel have tightened security measures.
Ahmed Jama, who runs the Village Restaurant, said his staff has implemented measures to ensure the safety of visitors.
"Since the suicide attack that targeted the Village Restaurant, we have implemented tight security measures, including thoroughly searching anyone entering the restaurant and [hiring] private guards that secure the restaurant," he told Sabahi, adding that he is in the process of repairing the damage from the attack.