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Introducing Dire Dawa

The fourth-most populous city in Ethiopia, Dire Dawa usually elicits strong reactions. We think its colourful storefront, tree-lined streets, neat squares, and foreign influence (look for Arab, French, Italian and Greek styles in some of the architecture and design) are a refreshing change from the filthy disorder and lack of character in most Ethiopian towns. Others just consider it a more vibrant version of tedium.

Dire Dawa is made up of two distinct settlements, divided by the trash-strewn Dechatu Wadi (seasonal river). Lying to the north and west is the European-influenced ‘new town’ known as Kezira. To the east is the more colourful ‘old town’, known as Megala, which has a distinctly Muslim (and, coincidently, a slightly Mexican) feel.