Somalia pledges to return $9.8 million taken from UAE, renew ties

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: The United Arab Emirates and Somalia have taken steps to end a break between the countries that began in 2018.

As part of these steps, the UAE has welcomed Somalia’s public apology for its seizure of Emirati aircraft and $9.6 million in cash in 2018.

In a statement, the Emirati foreign ministry thanked Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble of Somalia for his "initiative" to settle the dispute.

Writing on Twitter, senior Emirati diplomat Anwar Gargash said the Somali prime minister’s apology "opens a new page."

"The UAE continues its steps towards restoring bridges and reconnecting with various countries in its quest to enhance regional stability," Gargash added.

In April 2018, Somali security forces boarded an Emirati airplane at the Mogadishu airport, held Emirati soldiers at gunpoint and left with bags of cash that the country’s security services claimed were undeclared U.S. dollars.

The UAE said the funds had been brought to Somalia to pay salaries of Somali soldiers and for other types of aid.

In January, as the UAE sent planeloads of humanitarian aid to Somalia, Roble said he wished to apologize to the Emirati government for the confiscation of the $9.6 million.

He also pledged to return the seized funds "as soon as possible."

"A new dawn of normalizing relations," Roble tweeted at the time. "After a period of cold relations, Somalia & UAE are now on a progressive path to solve their differences & resume the brotherly ties."

The incident in Somalia was linked to the UAE’s earlier break with Qatar.

The Emirates has invested in infrastructure programs in Somalia’s breakaway territory of Somaliland. Also, Dubai-owned DP World port operator operates a major seaport in the area.