Djibouti City is evolving at a fast pace, and there’s a palpable sense of change in the air. Today’s city is vastly different from the battered French outpost to which it was reduced in the 1980s and 1990s. Thanks to its geostrategic importance and its busy port, Djibouti City has been transformed from a sleepy capital to a thriving place. In recent years, increasing waves of foreign investment have sparked a number of building projects. Yet under its veneer of urban bustle, the city remains a down-to-earth place, with jarring cultural and social combinations. Traditionally robed Afar tribesmen, stalwart GIs, sensuous Somali ladies and frazzled businessmen with the latest mobile phones stuck to their ear all jostle side by side.
Djibouti City boasts good infrastructure, including hotels, bars (a note for those who’ve just come from Somaliland: yes, they’re licensed), clubs and restaurants – it’s the place in the Horn of Africa to treat yourself to a fine meal. Sure, it lacks standout sights, and its architecture doesn’t have much to turn your head, but stick around this engaging city long enough and you might fall prey to its unexpected charms. It’s also the obvious place to organise forays into the fantastic hinterland, or boat excursions.