Soon after the First World War, the Italians realized that the shallow bay of Ras Hafun, which had a long, low beach along the mainland side, was a perfect place for a large salt works. The Società Saline e Industrie della Somalia Settentrionale built on both sides of the peninsula of Ras Hafun ( Hafun and Hurdiyo) what would be the largest salt-works in the world. The firm, constituted in Milan in 1922, built a town for 5,000 inhabitants called Dante. As soon as construction began in 1922, the site was attacked by two thousand Somalis who were resisting Italian domination of northeastern Somalia. The attack ceased after an Italian gunboat was called in to shell the attackers. Construction resumed and was completed by 1929. In 1931, production began at the salt factory and soon the enterprise at Ras Hafun was exporting by sea over three hundred thousand tons of high quality Red Sea salt a year for industrial use.
In 1941, during World War II, the British, who had lost British Somaliland to an Italian attack, sent north into Somalia from Kenya an expeditionary force that captured all of Italian East Africa and in the process destroyed the salt works.