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Mogadishu – Once, in the 1960s and 70s, it was known as the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean.” That was before decades of armed conflict and instability drove visitors away from Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, leaving a once-thriving tourism a distant memory.

However, there are steps underway to return it, and the rest of the country, to its former glory as a haven for tourists seeking a mix of beach, culture and history – so much so that in some quarters, the country’s neglected tourism sector, while still in its nascent stages, is being touted as a potential catalyst of significant economic growth and employment in coming years.

That prospect received a boost last September when Somalia was admitted as the 157th member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) at the organization’s general assembly meeting in Chengdu, China.

According to the UNWTO, which helps destinations position themselves in global tourism markets, the spread of tourism in industrialized and developed states has produced ‎economic and employment benefits in many related sectors – from construction and ‎agriculture to telecommunications. It adds that developing countries particularly stand to ‎benefit from sustainable tourism and acts to help make this a reality.‎

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Somali News

Somali fisherwoman breaks boundaries in Mogadishu

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Riyan Abukar Ali is determined to succeed as a fisherwoman in Somalia, in a trade dominated by men.

She used be a tuk-tuk driver, but took to the seas off the coast of the capital Mogadishu when the social pressures of being a woman in her previous job became too much.

Video journalists: Alinur Hassan and Mohamud Abdisamad

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Ethiopian PM says they will continue to develop Berbera Port so Ethiopia and Somaliland can benefit

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Somali News

Somalia’s al Shabaab denounces ex-spokesman as apostate who could be killed

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Somali al Shabaab Islamist militants, who have carried out frequent bombings in the capital, Mogadishu, said a former leader who defected to the government side was an apostate who could be killed.

Al Shabaab fell out with its former spokesman and deputy leader, Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, in 2013. He defected to the U.N.-backed government in August last year.

Al Shabaab has been fighting for years to try to topple Somalia’s central government and rule the Horn of Africa country according to its own interpretation of Islamic law.

“If Mukhtar Robow thinks he can destroy Islamic sharia and the mujahedeen, he is deluded. Allah will protect Islam and Jihad will not stop just because of you and your likes who joined the enemies,” Ali Mohamud Rage, al Shabaab’s spokesman, said in a video posted late on Monday.

It was not immediately possible to reach Robow for comment.

“No doubt, Mukhtar Robow left his religion and joined the disbelievers and the enemies are still the enemies,” al shabaab’s spokesman said.

“Anybody who joins the line of non-Muslims is an apostate who can be killed.”

A report by rights body Human Rights Watch released on Monday said al Shabaab had threatened and abducted civilians in Somalia’s Bay region to force communities to hand over their children for indoctrination and military training in recent months.

“Al Shabaab’s ruthless recruitment campaign is taking rural children from their parents so they can serve this militant armed group,” said Laetitia Bader, senior Africa researcher for the rights body.

The insurgents, who are allied with al Qaeda, were driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011. They have also since lost nearly all other territory they previously controlled after an offensive by Somali government troops and African Union-mandated AMISOM peacekeepers.

Al Shabaab, however, remains a formidable threat and has carried out bombings both in Mogadishu and other towns against military and civilian targets.

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