The 3,650km^2 island, located south of the Yemeni mainland in the Indian Ocean, overlooks the Bab al-Mandab Strait. The straight is a sea route chokepoint between the Horn of Africa and the Middle East, connecting the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea. Most exports of oil and natural gas from the Persian Gulf that transit the Suez Canal or the SUMED Pipeline pass through both the Bab el-Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz.
Since the start of the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, the UAE, formally a Saudi ally, and the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council, a Yemeni separatist movement that is formally allied with the Saudi-backed government in Aden, have established control over most of Socotra Island. For years, the UAE has been seeking to annex the island due to its strategic location. The collapse of the Yemeni statehood due to the years-long instability and the foreign intervention paved a way for more direct actions. The creation of a military infrastructure there is a logical step in this strategy.