Most Important Projects and Latest Developments in Socotra Island
There is no denying of the fact that the UAE is the leading contributor of financial aid to a war-torn country like Yemen, where millions of people are on the brink of starvation. Currently, the UAE officials have submitted a detailed report about the nation’s endeavor to support the people on the Yemeni island of Socotra. The Yemeni island of Socotra might not have gained so much limelight; however, the effort to help the people of this island by the UAE has been a successful one.
Anwar Gargash, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in a statement published last May through UAE’ state news agency stated that in retrospect, UAE should have done much more.
UAE through its developmental and relief organizations has helped Socotra to restore from political anxiety, neglect as well as natural disasters.
The prominent efforts have been taken by the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation, which offered support in agriculture, education, trade, health, and energy.
The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation has formed pilot schools in Socotra with over 300 teachers in all departments. Putting education as one of its top concerns in Socotra, the foundation has aided in increasing the number of basic and secondary schools from 17 to 70. The foundation also encourages university education on the two colleges of the island.
To maintain Socotra’s important link with the outside world, the Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation reconstructed the city’s commercial port as well as other facilities that were damaged by storms.
The foundation set up lighting for the runway of Socotra’s airport and gave training to airport workers to keep the air links open even in case of natural disasters.
The foundation developed a station to generate electricity 24 hours a day. Previously, residents only had access to electricity for 4 hours a day.
The Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Hospital, where 95% of the population is treated, was developed and equipped at the cost of $1.7 million.
More than 30 wells and other water installations have been set up in the last decade to provide clean water for residents and boost local agriculture. The foundation worked on the harbors and developed a factory for canning and export of fish for supporting local fishermen.
The UAE’s investment in the development of the island, infrastructure and security has not been accepted by the Houthis or their allies.
Those who are cynical of the Emirati role in Socotra blame the Gulf nation of threatening the sovereignty of the archipelago. However, the United Arab Emirates remained active in Socotra even before the conflict.
In fact, in March 2000 it was the United Arab Emirates to have first reached out to Socotra, sending an Emirates Red Crescent (ERC) team to offer residents aid and relief materials after major floods destroyed buildings and agricultural lands.In the face of allegations by the Houthis and their supporters, Emirati officials echoed their respect and devotion to the unity, sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Yemen.
Gargash stated that the UAE does not hold any desire on the archipelago. It would remain Yemen’s territory. The criticism that the UAE have received in Socotra circles around the same people who would criticize the UAE over and over again. Clearly, UAEs role in Socotra is about humanitarian development, and they would continue to do so in order to support the island community.