BY EGAL ABDIWALI
Jazeera Hotel has been bombed several times but the hotel always rises up and offers even better services. A Somali proverb goes: the best bed that a man can sleep on is peace. Indeed Somalia is experiencing tranquility. The people of Somalia can go through nights unpunctuated by cracks of gunshots and explosions.Sleep is no more a luxury. Better still, visitors and locals alike can check in at the Jazeera Palace Hotel and enjoy a serene night.
Mogadishu is a prime business destination with rapidly growing trade prospects and adequate cash circulation. More business is expected after the US government honoured its promise to reopen its Somali Mission following 21 years of absence.
The Jazeera Palace Hotel is strategically positioned 300m from the Aden Abdulle International Airport, a crucial entry point for Somalia. Somalia is not yet out of the woods and once in a while Mogadishu experiences spats of terror.
You need resilience and determination to make sense and thrive in the challenging environment. It is exactly this kind of personality that is embodied by this premier hotel. The Jazeera Place hotel has become the face of Somalia’s resilience and dogged determination to overcome the past and embrace a new peaceful future.
The hotel has come under attack three times but no matter how hard below the belt kicks it suffers, it bravely picks itself up by the bootstraps and literally uses the debris to rebuild.
The first attack (2012) took place when President Sheikh Mohamud was a resident. They rebuild. The second attack (2014), that by far was the most devastating, involved a lorry load of explosives that was rammed against the hotel’s parameter wall. It brought down part of the hotel and five lives were lost. They rebuild.
As they are wont to saying: once is an incidence. Twice is a coincidence. Thrice is a pattern. The hotel management and other real estate developers are determined in staying afloat despite what is thrown at them.
“The attackers are enemies of development and anything that shows progress is unacceptable to them. They have to scuttle any activities that relate to the reconstruction going on in Somalia because they are worried that the government’s attempt to create jobs or provide education and healthcare will render them irrelevant to the masses,” the hotel management noted.
Not to take the attacks lying down, the management hinted on investing in security measures that will see them prevent and even repulse such repugnant attacks.
The Hotel General Manager Justus Kisaulu who spoke to Somali Investor
Magazine after its third attack in July said the hotel is too focused to be distracted. “I have been here since 2012 and I have witnessed the rapid recovery Somali is making. New buildings are coming up in every street around Mogadishu. International firms setting up. Roads being re-carpeted. This is the next frontier for business in East Africa. The resilience of the Somali people is admirable,” Kisaulu oozed of enthusiasm and confidence.
The young hotelier, who previously worked at the Nomad Paradise Hotel in Nairobi, boldly ventured into Somali as an expatriate in the hotel industry. One of his loyal customers in his previous working station had approached him with the job offer to spearhead the hotel.
“I felt the need to take up the challenge in Somalia despite the security situation in the city and lack of connection to the main power grid. We have a superb destination here and business is booming.”
The Jazeera hotel has a boarding capacity of 70 rooms. They have presidential suites, deluxe as well as standard rooms. The hotel also offers conferencing facilities.
Historians will have a place for the hotel when they are documenting post-conflict Somalia. President Sheikh Mohamud took official residence in this hotel when he was sworn in 2012.
As though on cue, Jazeera Hotel has remained the preferred destination for hosting the country’s high profile guests. Diplomatic Missions, United Nations staff, Shipping Companies, Bankers, businessmen and civil society make the bulk of the hotel’s residents.
“The business potential in Mogadishu is innumerable. Average hotel occupancy rate is 95 per cent throughout the year. Despite competition, we are constantly in demand,” said the manager. The manager glows in the fact that some guests have booked rooms two years ahead. He urges those interested in investing in the hospitality industry to venture into the Mogadishu market. The hotel’s aim is to be the leader in the hospitality industry and steer economic and tourism recovery in Somalia.
“We have been training a number of youths and we hope to empower them o that they have the skills and experience to one day take over the management of the hotel,” Kisaulu envisioned, as part of their strategy
The hotel reckons its success is firmly anchored on their warm ambience, superb services, beautiful beaches and the prevailing peace.
They are confident that if they play their part and the government ramps up its effort in sustaining security then more visitors and investors will keep checking in, hence the exponential growth of the industry as well as the country