Published On: Mon, May 21st, 2012

The Somali millionaire ‘thanked’ for being rich

DUBAI — The emirate of Dubai is one of the richest places in the world with a large population of foreign nationals – including tens of thousands of expat Somalis, some wealthier and more successful than others.

“Why this car?” I asked.

“Because I don’t like the Phantom.”

“The Phantom?”

“Oh, you know, the Rolls-Royce Phantom.”

The car I was talking about was a Bentley. And the man I was talking to was a Somali, originally from Mogadishu, who had done rather well for himself in the mobile phone business.

He was dressed in an understated but expensive way. We were in the underground car park of a giant, glitzy shopping mall in Dubai.

The car was enormous. Six metres (20ft) long and a rich, dark gold colour. A small Indian man was polishing its wheels.

“Get in,” said the Somali.

I obeyed his instruction and placed myself as elegantly as I could on the smooth leather seat. The floors were made of soft brown fur.

“Lambskin,” Abdullahi Abdi Hussein said, as he closed the door for me. A quiet, expensive clunk.

“This car cost $500,000 (£315,000),” he added as he slid into the driver’s seat.

“Look at the dashboard. It’s African cherry wood and crystal. The interior, including the ceiling, is cow leather. Special cow, blemish-free cow, bred especially for Bentley.”

We purred into action and out into the sunlight. The glistening, glass-and-marble world of Dubai. Past the tallest building in the world. A city where everything looks unreal – even the people.
“I like the best of everything,” said Abdullahi. “Have you heard of Number One perfume? ”

“I’ve heard of Chanel No 5.”

“No, I’m speaking about Number One – the most expensive perfume in the world.”

“Here,” he said, giving me his phone. “This is a photo I took of my bottle. Next to my watch.”

He told me the make of the watch which I now forget but I have checked the price of the perfume he was talking about.

It is £2,700 ($4,300) for 30 millilitres.

Before I tell you more about my journey in the Bentley, I think I should tell you about the other Somalis I met in Dubai.

They were right in the middle of the city, in a place that contrasts dramatically with the extreme order, the perfect cars and clothes, the extraordinary buildings in all sorts of surreal shapes and sizes. A world apart from the air-conditioned shopping malls selling things that none of us really needs, at prices I certainly cannot afford.

Moored in the creek that runs through Dubai is a long stretch of old, scruffy, splintering wooden dhows. Their design has not changed much for centuries. The sailors are Gujaratis and several of those I met did not even have shoes.

All of them were going to Somalia, including Mogadishu, which is often described as the most dangerous city in the world. They did not seem in the least bit concerned.

The area was a frenzy of activity.

All sorts of things were being loaded on to the dhows, Somali merchants keeping a sharp eye on what went where.

There was a lot of dried pasta, a staple in Somalia. There was quite a lot of bottled water. There
were cars, vans and spare tyres, scaffolding, paint, tiles – an amazing array of construction material, a sign perhaps that Somalia is starting to rebuild itself after more than 20 years of war.
Even though it is a country of fewer than 10 million people and has come top of the world’s list of failed states for the past four years in a row, it is, I am told, the second biggest importer of goods from Dubai, after Iran.

And it does this in the most basic of ways, by loading goods on to wooden boats which then take a few days to sail to Somalia. Some of them are seized by pirates on the way.

Dubai creek is a key trading post for shipments to Somalia. But back to that car, that Bentley with its digital displays, wireless headphones and no fewer than 20 speakers to pump out the music. It even had massage machines built into the seats which, I confess, I found truly delicious.

As we slid along boulevards – the playgrounds of the rich – people stopped and stared, their heads swivelling in amazement, eyes popping, sometimes cameras flashing.

“What do other Somalis make of you and this car?” I asked.

“Oh, they are extremely happy. They congratulate me and say thank you. They say seeing me in my car makes them proud to be Somali.”

“They don’t feel jealous or disgusted?”

“Oh no. Why should they? I give them hope. I bought this car because it shows success.”

As those flashing cameras showed, the Bentley even managed to impress the ultra-wealthy residents of Dubai.

But I am not sure what it would have meant, if anything, to those Somalis I met at the port, or indeed the Somalis back home in Mogadishu, most of whom can only dream of owning a car, let alone a Bentley.

By Mary Harper

BBC News

May 21, 2012

Displaying 48 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Kayse says:

    Congratulations Abdullahi and may Allah bless that wealth for you and don't forget to open businesses in Somalia to employ your people and give them their own dreams.

  2. Ali says:

    Nabi Muhammad said to the nearest meaning, “laisa al-ghina ‘an kathratil ardi wa laakin al-ghina ghinan-nafs.” translates as, “Wealth is not an abundance of worldly materials but rather wealth is a contented heart.”

    We will all enter our graves as naked as the day we were born. We arrived in dunya without any wealth and we enter our graves as such. A wealth of good deeds is what matters and is all we will carry with us into our graves; so increase your good deeds and you will be successful

  3. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    your a business person rite? plz can you give me ideas if Dubai iz a good place to invest? can you start a small business with ten thousand pounds?
    Ps my money got nothing to do with piracy, its totally halal.

    • Jacfar says:

      Why Dubai?, go and invest in Puntland. You may as well give hope to your ppl.

    • marse says:

      100000 pounds go dubai buy some stuff and export to bosaaso and hargeisa think of cars and petrol maybe
      i am not sure hargeisa but puntland follows pure capitalism meaning anyone can import but somaliland is tightly controlled forexample this guy called indhadeero is the onlyone allowed to export livestock and rest is for dahabshiil!!!!!!

      • kaboooon says:

        please stop with the bullsh*t about somaliland and dahabshiil, dahabshiil is the biggest somali business and will always be the biggest, richest.

        • fadal ahmed says:

          kakoon or kabooooon.
          dahabshill or some people called dhiigshil relies 70% it’s revenue on somalis not s/land which is small encalve.

    • khaatumo citizen says:

      lool i think i can help..

  4. Gobaad says:

    Abdullahi Abdi Hussein, if the money he made gotten by investing smart and hard work, congratulation! But if he made his money by human traffic and piracy and took it to Dubai to legitimatized it, it is xaraam in any way he puts it.

  5. Wadani says:

    It seems to me that Mary Harper miss took the whole affair of this rich man, when she said he got this money from Mobile phone. Of course she is from where lie is forbidden, but she does not know the Wanlaweyns. If at all this wealth is true, I believe it's the piracy money, and this guy is one of those who run piracy business at Dubai, as international community and even Pentagon said before. Money laundaring is another issue that these people are involved.

    Never trust a Wanlaweyn, even if he is carrying a load of Musxaf on his back.

  6. Liban says:


    So just because this "Wanlaweyn" guy is rich, you assume its from pirate money? Haha. Wow.

    You can't judge. Cant you take off your hateful spectacles for one second and just accept the fact that he grew his business the halal way?

    Wanlaweyn this, wanlaweyn that. Blah blah blah. You are starting to look foolish. Painting all "Wanlaweyns" with the same brush as if they are all these criminals who flourish on corruption, bribery and hate.

  7. Kayse says:

    Gobaad is always sick. She cant swallow the fact that someone from the south can be a millionaire. She thinks only Allah and Ciibada know member of her two subclans. What a sick minded person she is. She always has to allow her personal sufferings cloud her judgement, I guess she been smelling the fume of hatred by members of her two subclans for far too long.

    There are a lot of millionaire Mogadishu people for your information Gobaad and they include the ones that allow you to regularly call your family members back home such as Telesom which is part of Golis telecom and Al Barakat.

    Mogadishu people do business well by looking beyond the qabil boundaries, in Hargeisa, they will ask who you are before you can even open a business then they will decide if they will use you based on clan.

    I do not see anyone in Mogadishu saying kick Dahabshiil out because they are part of the two subclans in Morgan's house but you seen what they did to Jama and his Dalkom….blocking his legit license and rewarding to their clan member from Djibouti (SomCable), which does not even share same country.

    And they complain about others isolating them because of tribe I think they are the worst offenders.

    But lets move on. Lets congratulate him.

    • mohamed cheers says:

      Kayse's the sick one in all aspects. Gobaad's comments you are boisterously teasing are only 3 lines of balanced comments as far as I can see what Gobaad blogged, while kayse's personal attack is moronly far too off the hook. Kayse, I don't know Gobaad and her clan, but I know that she's the most articulated well balanced and well behaved personality and not only that but most educated in all her academically highly accredited self esteem, in short a highly respected dignitary whose blogging comments are
      always not only high profiled but just best blogging comment(s) pure logic would love to hear.
      A jumbo jet for her class and fashion. Kayse there's no more reputation for you here and am not sure
      if that Jinni species mermaid in the oceans (mohahahaha) would be able to tolerate you anymore,
      since you are proving too repulsive nowdays in your peacock funny ways kkkkkk.

      • Kayse says:

        hahahahaha Mohamed Cheers,

        Keep hating sxb but I just don't get her and how deep she really is into the qabil thing. Basically she believes any southern with money is either a warlord, drug dealer or a pirate boss.

        In fact most people with the money in all Somalia except Dahabshiil are religious men, the rest waste their money on qat, cigarettes and coca cola.

        Even wealthy issaks left the north for Mogadishu when the nation had a government and today will be no different.

        Somalis are doing well and Somalia is recovering, this news only gives the Somalis doing tough more hope.

        Lets congratulate Abdullahi and wish him well with his new wealth.

        • mohamed cheers says:

          You are free to say and go after your wild chases but for goodness sake be fair to Gobaad
          cuz you are over speculating. The Piracy, Warlordism, terrorism (don't know about drugs)
          are all the works of Southern Somalia and Gobaad should not be singled out to that situation
          cuz we all know and say the same. Also Dahabshiil's no different than other good big business
          companies. Kayse honestly you could do well if you skip these latest bizarre nuisances of yours
          showing all out open war on Somaliland which would not work for you or others and instead
          support the two sovereignty Govts i.e. for Somaliland and Somalia..Hargeisa and Mogadiscio.
          You don't support this then go to hell…Mohahahaha world.

    • mahad ali says:


      as you said no boundries to business,me and my freinds tried to invest hargiese few years back & we already had few shops in mogadishu, some people start asking us silly questions what you want to sell etc,Then we decided not to invest instead went to kenya eastligh bought two shops today we have seven shops each worth $70,000.

    • Anonymoua says:

      you wonder why This person Gobaad is soo sick now we are getting .

  8. Gobaad says:

    Kayse, I can see how sick and unstable you are. Apart from seeing my name I don't think you read or understood what I said. Well, you are kayse, jack of all trades and because of his narcissistic personality he thinks that he is smarter than everyone else. But the fact of the matter is you are idiot, tribalist, and a norrow-minded moron who cannot see any further than his nose. I don't have to be related to the ruling family to defend my people and country.

    FYI I am from hawd if it dones any difference to you and don't have any tribal affiliation with the ruling family, but I am a hard core Somalilander and a staunch supporter of Somaliland's existence, peace and stability, and the unity of the people Somaliland.

    • khaatumo cizen says:

      gobaad i remember me calling u inabti and u answered dont call me inabti ''meeshii lay saro waa issak''
      u know how triblist is that sounded and now u calling others tribilist and promoting the unity of the people of somaliland all the sudden.. classic..

      just get rid off the hatred it only eat u alive

      • Kayse says:

        It looks like me and you will have our aroos reception in the former Morgan house…do you think Gobaad will help with the cooking?

        I know Mohamed cheers is ready to be the best man while wearing those funny three colors on his head.

        Just imagine Mohamed cheers tossing for our aroos:

        "Good evening ladies and gentlemen CHEERS!…I want to congratulate this dadaax aroos CHEERS….We are now serving caano geel CHEERS….Malxiisado to the left CHEERS…..Fanaanki ba lawayeey CHEERS".

        They are mad but its good to have sense of humor. They so serious about the little project in western Hargeisa.

      • Gobaad says:

        khaatumo cizen, that was when you were Puntlandgeezer. I am not promoting qabiil and qabiil is not my thing. But it is true, meelna kama soo galo D*r**d. waxaad ilmo abti tihiin, ku waad wada degtaan eg. HJ. I am personally don't hate anybody, but react to those individuals who have no business attacking, insulting, hating Somalilanders including yourself.

    • mohamed cheers says:

      Gobaad don't give a damn about that spoiled kayse peacock he's knows he has lost his dignity
      by saying the wrong things about Somaliland, and he's now trying other smoke gun tricks to
      peacock around you and Amal. Don't you see it that way. He failed in politics now he wants to try
      peacock tricks. no1 Joodari Bhai kkkkk

      • khaatumo cizen says:

        Mahamed cheers dont take it serous walalo he's just joking , i dont think Kayse hates somaliland at all..

      • Gobaad says:

        mohamed cheers, don't worry about me. I can handle a crazy and bipolar person like Kayse. He is all over the place like a lunatic and enjoying the attention he is getting from walaweyn.

  9. osman5 says:

    Your lack of respect for Gobaad is a clear indication you're unwell. Have some matters , please.

    Osman Qaal

  10. Burcawii says:


    Somalis say "labaatan jir buur inta o kaboodo a iyo talo kabooda". Brother please take it easy. There is a limit for everything.

  11. Gobaad says:

    Folks, don't worry about me. I was suspecting that there was something strange about the guy's behaviour from the beginning and used to aviod engaging with him. Now it is quite clear to me that Kayse has a combination of many weird behaviour that make him stand out from the rest of us here.

  12. Adan Libaax says:

    What a ridicolous and tacky article by the bbcs Mary Harper. I guess this pocky faced british lady has forgotten that the british empire is finish and nobody reads or listiens to the bbc propoganda anymore. She should be ashmed of hereself for written nonsense like this but then again what do you expect from the british broadcasting coperation there only job is to describe other people as wild,and uncivilized while they steal and robb the word. Dont worry Ms Harper we get your article..I.e somali nation are dying while this guy is living the high life..
    Now go and pisss off you disrespectfull Neocolonial …Ghost.

  13. GeezerFrmPuntland says:

    young lady im from southern & ave ten thousand pound rite now but in ur confused head i cant make that much money so i must be a pirate, drug dealer or even a human smuggler.
    i kno what you are but im not gona say it, ur a *****!!!!l

    Ps im not khaatumo cizen, she a woman but i am PuntlandGeezer & Puntlandwarror, anything with puntland or geezer thats me.

    • Gobaad says:

      GeezerFrmPuntland, fraudulent scheme are always practice by walaweyn, a means of obtaining money quickly either from Insurance Companies by staging incidents or by human trafficking, piracy or by bordello houses. You don't have to worry if you didn't get your money in any of these activities.

  14. GeezerF4mPuntland says:

    i love you man, ur the best wallahi. Plz do what you do best put these bunch of traitors on check!!!

  15. amal says:


    Pirategeezer, just go and jump of a cliff. You are waste of space!!!

    The like of you is why we hate to join Somalia.

  16. Mohamd says:

    Easy come easy go as they say. This person certainly did not gain the majority of wealth through Halal means judging by the austentatious life style he himself chose. Halal means security and not over exposing yourself this much to peoples attention as this guy.

    PS: Reporters are spies and are often sent to projects involving people during the last stages of an investigation. Now Somalis have been made all aware of this mans suspicous wealth, no Somali will shed tears if such person is sent to Guantanamo.

  17. abdi noor says:

    Crass, vulgar, are the words that spring to mind. Kayse is impressed by this clown as most shallow people would be. It is always the case when people from poor backgrounds make it big and think they need to shout and scream about their wealth. Look at the arabs in the gulf for example.

    Kayse problem is that he is obsessed with Somaliland, while nobody cares about what he thinks or does with his sad uneventful life.

  18. S/landerr says:

    PuntlandGeezer has a bad reputation of always attacking women and a deep Somaliland hater best to ignore him.

  19. faysal416 says:

    all i see a lot of haters dont hate your fellow somali mr abdullahi keep working hard and may god bless u more and more thank u

  20. osman5 says:

    Good for the Somali millionaire fellow in the Middle East. Is that the only Somali millionaire in the world?
    I wonder why he is so big deal..

    Osman Qaal

  21. Gobaad says:

    osman5, you don't know walaweyn, they like to show off!

  22. Ismail says:

    Alla maxaa baakhad iyo naakhooy bilaa camal ah meesha iskugu timid.

    Soomaali badankeedu waa fakhri, inya wax heeysaayina waa xaasidiin. Markaa yaan lagu mashquulin hal nin oo wax helay.

    Kuwiinan qabyaalada meesha la jooga waxaan idin leeyahay dhamaantiin GO STRAIGHT TO HELL, MTF”

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