x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Portents from Sudan's past both good and bad

A Sudanese expat discusses ways to contribute to the development of South Sudan.

DUBAI // Sudanese national Khalid El Sheikh agrees with the idea of finding ways to contribute to a new country that is still underdeveloped.

"At the end of the day, it is also about broadening experience, references and adding value to a professional profile," said Mr El Sheikh, 34, who is the Middle East sales manager for a company specialising in oil and gas motors.

"I also feel the south has the potential of being able to manage provided it receives the proper support."

Whether or not the Republic of the South will welcome northerners with open arms is debatable. The long history of political conflict between the nations includes a 22-year civil war, one of the longest in the world.

"It's a very complex issue. The south felt they were being oppressed for a long time and have now separated from us. So, the question is will they now believe that we are offering our help with the best of intentions?" Mr El Sheikh said.

The negative portrayal of northerners taking advantage of the south, he said, stems from an image created mainly by the media.

"How will we now make ourselves heard to make what hatred there is disappear?"

Many issues need to be tackled such as the disputed border regions of Abyei, Blue Nile State and South Kordofan in order for a relationship between the two countries to run smoothly. Even after the South's declaration of independence last Saturday, this remains a sensitive topic.

"If northerners do play a key role in the development of a new nation, it would not be the first time. Sudan was one of the first countries to officially recognise the United Arab Emirates," Mr El Sheikh said.

This recognition, he said, led to many Sudanese making the move to the UAE and this manpower supported the development of the newly formed nation.

"There was a massive flow of engineers, lawyers, judges and even defence personnel sharing their knowledge and skills. The level of trust between the two countries became so strong," he said.

"My question is this: will the same scenario repeat itself in South Sudan? This is the debate."