"This point was bought by France from the Sultan of Tadjourah. Exactly three rocks in the sea, with a few reefs around it, but, as it was, it had seduced France. She married him not for his beauty, but for his background, a good background that would make a beautiful bay. "Albert London, Pearl Fishermen.
Djibouti has become a major port and a city with very little exposure to the sea. The capital of a country of nomads devoid of beautiful buildings and museums. Here, on African soil, there are no European, Arab or Indian architectural testimonies. Djibouti is neither Zanzibar nor Asmara. The city can charm with its colonial quarter with Moorish architecture, but it remains modest.
The uniqueness of Djibouti is all in its special atmosphere: white walls, horizontal buildings, the colours and smells of the market, the dynamism and resourcefulness of a young nation. The small anchorage has become an international port, attracting all kinds of people. The capital acts as a magnet for nomads from the inland.
Djibouti, the Red Sea Watch, fixes the French, American, Japanese and - soon - Chinese military (2017). Djibouti, the port, supplies sailors from all over the world and Ethiopian truckers. Djibouti, the pacified one, welcomes refugees from neighbouring countries that are tearing each other apart. Djibouti, the merchant, supports Pakistani builders, Indian or Senegalese merchants, Yemeni fishermen or Ethiopian, Vietnamese, Greek, French or Lebanese restaurateurs.
And each one of them adds his own touch to this cosmopolitan city, where one goes for a coffee and croissant on a terrace before venturing into the maze of neighbourhoods, to have lunch with an Ethiopian injera or a Yemeni moukbassa, between Africa, Europe and Arabia, which are the three faces of this city with its moving identity.