Mogadishu is booming

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International efforts to stabilize Somalia have created a window for economic progress.

As dawn breaks and calls to prayer fill the city, thousands of residents and traders head to the city’s markets, some carrying sacks filled to the brim with goods to sell, others holding large straw baskets to buy these up.

At Bakara, one of the city’s largest open-air markets, traders in slacks and sandals or colorful dresses and headscarves sell fruits and vegetables, clothing and cosmetics, camels’ legs and intestines, fuel and khat, a popular plant-based stimulant that is chewed across the region. By the time the market opens at 6 a.m., traders, mechanics, metalworkers, tailors, and hairdressers are already busy chatting with customers. Groups of young men sit together chewing khat and sipping sweet black Somali tea.

“I’m happy with my business because it gives me huge profits,” says Amina Abdi, a mother of six who owns a fruit stall. “I use the profits from my business to pay rent, feed, and educate my children.”