A decade ago they were the buccaneering capitals of the 21st century, haunts of modern-day Blackbeards armed with Kalashnikovs rather than cutlasses.
Today, Somalia’s once-lawless pirate towns are aiming for a more honest future – as freight ports.
Three of the most notorious pirate havens – Hobyo, Eyl and Garacad – are all now earmarked for port construction projects, which will see them cater to the shipping trade they once preyed upon.
It is hoped the ports will finally bring prosperity to the so-called “pirate coast”, which lies on one of the most remote and impoverished parts of Somalia.
“With this project, Somalia will firmly establish itself a key hub on the global maritime network,” said Abdisabir Shurie, the minister of ports and fisheries for Somalia’s Galmadug state, which is behind the Hobyo project. “The investment will create thousands of jobs for the Somali people and opportunities for businesses.”