It takes courage to be different, like, say, to offer Indian cuisine in a hotel industry that mainly provides ethnic Somalia food. Abdul Khbeer Mohyidin, the Indian behind such a feat, talks with an air of a man who has travelled a lot, experienced a lot and knows that he is still far from done.
When he shows up for the interview, he comes with a half empty bottle of water in one hand. “When I told my mother that I was coming to Somalia, she sat quietly for a moment then asked me to be a bit specific on what I was going to do in Somalia.
Investor tips from Mr Dahir (Mr Fruto)
- Know the type of business you are getting into.
- Be patient.
- Learn how people do business.
- Be careful and choose your business partners wisely”.
I told her I was coming to see the place, the opportunities and maybe, do something there.” Well, he stayed and on June 22, 2014, the
doors to the first Indian cuisine in Mogadishu were opened. “You must have noticed that there are so many hotels in this city. The question that we asked, with my partner before we set up, was; how can we be different from them?” Mr Mohyidin’s business partner, Mr Abdul Aziz Gedi, lives in the US but has decided to bet his money on the country. Mr Gedi offers an insight into how they went about deciding how to tackle the little problem of being unique: “We surveyed the industry and found that only ethnic Somali foods were available.
There was no alternative cuisine that offered something like Chinese, Thai, Mexican or such kind of cuisine. That was when I asked Mr Abdul, an expert in Indian foods, if he could export the cuisine to Somalia without leaving any taste out. He said it was possible and here we are today.” Sayid Hotel, which houses Khana Khazana restaurant, is constantly bustling. Located on Makka al-Mukarama Road, near the old Parliament and the Sayid Memorial Park, the hotel is not as striking from outside as it is inside.
The décor-done by Egyptian experts, the professional staff and the exquisite service, are calming and reassuring, a sharp contrast from the outside environment. The two owners had to bring in equipment from abroad. They also had to train the local members of staff and bring expert chefs from
India. This costly efforts, together with the cost of the food supplies, some of which they have to import, is the price they are willing to pay to see their establishment flourish. “The best thing about the hotel industry in Somalia is that the players are many.
That means that the quality of the food and service has to be beyond reproach. And we know that this industry is set to get even better with time, says Mr Gedi. As they plan to set up other Khana Khazana outlets in Mogadishu, Mr Abdul says the busiest period is between April and August, when most schools abroad are on holiday, causing a influx of those from the Disaspora.