Turkish agency launches restoration of Sudan’s Suakin Island

Published 24.01.2018 11:53
Updated 24.01.2018 18:27
emAA Photo/em
AA Photo

The Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) started restoration works on Sudan's Suakin Island after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan visited the country in December.

The president himself requested an immediate restoration of the historically-significant island. According to TİKA, 30 experts from various fields such as ground drilling, urban planning, geology and geophysics are currently conducting initial research.

The extensive restoration works will be launched after research results of the TIKA technical team are matched with the island's historical and cultural heritage.

TIKA aims to transform the Suakin Island into a culture tourism hub after completion of the joint Turkish-Sudanese project.

President Erdoğan previously said during his Sudan trip that "seeing the current status of Suakin Island saddened us."

"If you assign this island to us, we will restore it and make it worthy of its historical glory. Sudan will be proud of this and can take new steps in tourism," he added, suggesting that the island, when restored and revived, could be a part of the umrah or hajj route as it once was.

Erdoğan also visited several Ottoman sites, including Al-Hanafi Mosque, Al-Shafei Mosque and an old customs building located on the island, all of which were restored by TIKA.

Until the 19th century, Suakin was the residential address of the Ottoman Empire's Habesh Eyalet, which is today's Eritrea, Djibouti and northern Somalia.

Located northeast of Sudan, Suakin was the most significant port city in Nubia. After the establishment of Port Sudan, Suakin diminished in importance.

In 1571, when Sultan Selim the Grim conquered Egypt, Suakin also became a part of Ottoman territory and remained as such until the 19th century.

Yemen's Governor Özdemir Pasha, who was appointed to the Habesh governorship in 1554, founded the province of Habesh on July 5, 1555, and declared Suakin Island on the Red Sea coast of Sudan as the provincial center. In the 16th century, this province was affiliated with eight sanjaks.

Fortresses were constructed by the Ottomans for the conservation of the region, and the southern navy was divided into the Indian, Suez and Muha captaincies as the Red Sea became an "Ottoman inner sea."

The administration of the city was left to the Khedivate of Egypt in 1865. With the British occupation of Egypt in 1882, the city effectively left Turkish sovereignty and officially came to Egypt under British sovereignty in accordance with Article 17 of the Treaty of Lausanne dated July 24, 1923.

Suakin became part of Sudan's lands as Sudan gained independence from the British-Egyptian government in 1956.

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