UAE’s Military Bases to Refrain Adventurous Tourists from Visiting Yemen’s Socotra Island
Surpassing years of conflict between the Houthi rebels and the government, Yemen’s Socotra Island might soon become the dream destination of many adventurous travellers. With a population of just 60,000 inhabitants, the archipelago is an ideal spot that can boost Yemen’s travel related earnings by becoming a hub for ecotourism in future.
Even as the government prepares to lure tourists to Yemen’s Socotra Island, its pure white beaches continue to witness the brunt of not just Covid-19 pandemic but also the UAE-trained southern separatists, who are expanding their control over the environment each passing day.
Strict travel restrictions implicated to control the spread of the pandemic in Yemen had obstructed international humanitarian aid in ways never thought before. Moreover, locust swarms had damaged food crops pushing the country into further risks of malnutrition and food scarcity.
After the UAE established spy bases in Yemen’s Socotra Island, conservationists have expressed concerns for the unique and spectacular vegetation of the region. As per the UNESCO, ‘Socotra is of particular importance to the Horn of Africa’s biodiversity hotspot’. By setting up spy bases at a listed World Heritage Site, the UAE is negating the island’s tourist value, only to serve its violent purposes.
As stated by the Director General of UNESCO Irina Bokova, “It is evident that the destruction of their culture directly affects the identity, dignity and future of the Yemeni people, and moreover their ability to believe in the future”. UAE’s military base in Socotra could cause irreversible damage to a region that holds rare dragon blood trees, unique plant species including the Socotra starling, Socotra grosbeak and Socotra sunbird.
To strengthen its hold on the island, the UAE had also offered Emirati citizenship to several residents. Such moves could kill the essence of the jewel of biodiversity of the Arabian Sea, thereby raising direct questions about the future of Yemen.
The Yemeni government’s plans to turn the island into an ecotourism hub by building overland routes and improving airport facilities could end the nature-loving life that Yemeni residents currently enjoy. Many UN officials claim that the highways that bypass the villages pose huge challenges to their goal of conserving Yemen’s Socotra Island.
If not cared for now, we could lose a precious gem that is currently holds more than 700 endemic species found nowhere else on earth!!!