Scroll to top

S. Sudan Land Parceled Out… To Emiratis?

No comments

S. Sudan Land Parceled Out… To Emiratis?

Posted by Maggie Fick on July 15, 2009

UPDATE: An Enough Said reader wrote to me and noted that it is important to note that the UAE has been providing humanitarian relief and assistance in southern Sudan for some time. Read this recent article about the “Emirates World Humanitarian Mobile Hospital” that will soon go into operation “as part of the Red Crescent Authority’s campaign to deliver curative and preventive services to the underprivileged patients in southern Sudan.” Thanks to this reader for passing along this story, and please keep the comments coming.

Having recently returned from southern Sudan, an article in this week’s Economist caught my eye. Turns out one of the Emirates’ richest families has leased a remote but sizeable chunk—roughly the size of Denmark—of southern Sudan near the Ethiopian border with the intention of building a game park for what the Economist called “up-market” safaris. But, as the article also noted, southerners are rightly suspicious about the attention. Given that the 50-year contract has few strings attached, it’s fair to say that the Emiratis may succeed in controlling this large portion of southern Sudan “with little interference.” Thus, while building luxury tents and high-class safari attractions, Al Ain National Wildlife (the name of the Emirati family’s company) could just as easily bring in military equipment to assist the North in another civil war. The Economist notes that, although there is no suggestion that Al Ain would opt to participate in another Sudanese civil war, “as things stand, Al Ain is apparently already able to fly aircraft from the UAE in and out of South Sudan with no restriction or inspection.” Bottom line: It’s hard to tell what this massive land grab will bring, but as tensions build between the North and the South amid a rash of intercommunal violence across the South in recent months, there is reason to watch this story develop.