“….It’s like Manhattan, or central London…” The city that was dubbed various hopeless names such as the world’s most dangerous city “might be like Manhattan, or central London”, says one of the retail estate client in Mogadishu.

The loud street noises have not gone away yet – the sound of hammers has replaced the sound of bullets in most streets of Mogadishu. Construction projects are going on everywhere for new homes, hotels and shopping malls.  Expatriates are returning back and investing millions of dollars, providing jobs for thousands of young militiamen. In fact, for some business owners such as Mohamud Hareed Dagey who returned from London and opened a new restaurant near Lido Beach, creating jobs is more crucial than generating his profits. “What is important,” Dagey said, “is creating jobs for people’’.

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With many people from the diaspora going back, demand for properties and accommodation far exceeds supply, pushing up rental prices in the prime areas of Mogadishu. Mursal Mak, a home developer who left Somali in 1987 and returned in 2009 says, “Retail estate is booming in Mogadishu,” “This evening I had a meeting with a client and he said: ‘Mogadishu is becoming like Manhattan or central London; you are talking of incredible prices when it comes to property.’ While in 2009, Mak leased a property with a value of over $600,000 (£370,000) for $300 a month; he currently rents the same property for $4,500 a month.

For Somalis who have been living in exile, in various parts of the world, the new Mogadishu is a big amazement and a blessing. Mr. Hassan Musa Ahmed who lived in exile in Europe since 1991 and landed in Mogadishu around the New Year’s Eve with his family says, “We were expecting a runway surrounded by bullet ridden but to our big surprises, we saw passenger shuttle buses between the aircraft and the terminal and so many other surprises”.

The pre-war Mogadishu was once the most beautiful, and safety city in Africa, better captured by the image above. Mogadishu still has long way to go to restore its past glory but this is a great beginning of the once most beautiful city in Africa.

With its strategic location-seaports and airports, and its large Somali diaspora community channeling over $1billion annually to their home city, local analysts believe that when peace is fully restored, Mogadishu could outgrow Nairobi and Addis Ababa in the next 20-50 years.