Tuesday, 06-June-2023 02:52
no comments in "Yemen in news"
Yemen in news
Thursday, 12-April-2007
Almotamar Net - Sitting high up in the rocky mountains of northern Yemen, the countrys capital Sana’a is finding that its dwindling water supply may not be able to sustain the ancient settlement. BBC Radio correspondet - Sitting high up in the rocky mountains of northern Yemen, the country's capital Sana’a is finding that its dwindling water supply may not be able to sustain the ancient settlement.
I had almost walked right past the low doorway in the souk before I realised.
Then I stopped, peered into the gloom, and spotted it - a camel, sporting leather blinkers the size of small searchlights, circling the chamber, a wooden arm linking it to a central stone pillar which rotated as the animal tramped stolidly on.
It was a simple mill for producing sesame oil - and it would hardly have looked out of place at the time of Christ.
Arabia Felix
If you want local colour, then go to Sana’a. The entire old city is a Unesco World Heritage Site, complete with tall stuccoed houses whose perforated walls use the winds for natural ventilation.
There is the small square which covers the site of the 6th-Century Christian cathedral, though nothing now remains of its ebony and ivory pulpit or its crosses of silver and gold.
In the narrow lanes of the market you are pressed to buy a bag of dull golden crystals and your senses succumb to the smell of burning incense. To the Romans, Yemen was, after all, Arabia Felix, the home of frankincense and myrrh. They still make novel souvenirs.
Venture further, beyond the Old City's 30-foot-high (9-metre-high) clay walls, and there are plenty more reminders that Sana’a is one of a kind. There is the Military Museum, an eclectic assembly of old weapons (including a camel-mounted cannon), old motor cars, and relics of the British colony in Aden.
A chillingly topical touch is an illustration from the 1950s of an execution, the bloodied scimitar still in the swordsman's hand as the convict expires. Perhaps that explains why the museum is run by part of the interior ministry - the moral guidance department.
Sana’a is at least 2,500 years old. It claims to be the world's oldest inhabited city, though Damascus disputes that. But it is living on borrowed time.
For once climate change is not the presumed culprit. It is not natural causes at all - it is human behaviour.
Qat crop
However you do the sums, they just do not add up. There are nearly 20 million Yemenis - and the population doubles every 17 years.
The country imports most of its food, largely because it has too little water to feed itself. Yemenis have about one-fiftieth as much water per head as the world average.
And, to confound confusion, insupportably large amounts of water go on a non-essential crop - qat.
Qat in today's Yemen is what smoking was in Britain a generation ago. Everywhere you go you find men with cheeks bulging bizarrely as they get their fix. It is a shrub whose leaves, when you chew them, can induce mild euphoria, excitement, hallucinations and even constipation.
It is increasingly popular in Yemen. While a few years ago men would spend a couple of hours a day on their habit, many now chew happily away for seven or eight hours.
Within the last five years or so qat use has become much more accepted among women. One young professional woman told me she chewed it perhaps once every three months, as a way of socialising.
More often, she said, would be too much. She blames the drug for what she says is Yemenis' failure to better themselves.
Moralising apart, qat is having a baleful effect on Yemen. Of the country's scarce water, 40% goes on irrigating qat - and qat cultivation is increasing by 10% to 15% a year.
You cannot blame the farmers. As one says, growing qat earns him 20 times as much as growing potatoes.
You probably should not blame the chewers either. In a country where almost half the people live on less than US$2 (£1) a day, you find your fun where you can.
Relocation plans
The minister for water and the environment is an agricultural engineer - and he is a worried man.
"The Sana’a basin is using water 10 times faster than Nature is replenishing it," he told me.
"And before long there won't even be enough to drink. I am not an optimist. I think many of the city's people will simply have to move away.
The minister, himself a chewer, thinks weaning Yemenis off qat will be like breaking the tobacco habit.
"In time it won't be cool to chew," he says. "But time is what we don't have."
One of the ancient Arabic names of Sana’a translates as The Protected City. It looks as though the protection is running out.
From Our Own Correspondent was broadcast on Saturday, 7 April, 2007 at 1130 BST on BBC Radio 4.
More from "Yemen in news"

Other titles:
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
The United Arab Emirates acknowledged on Tuesday that two of its pilots were killed when their military aggression plane crashed over Jawf province, a military official said

The official added that the aggressive crashed plane was an apache that was
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
Three citizens were killed and four others wounded in two Saudi air strikes hit Majza district of Saada province, an official said on Tuesday.

The strikes hit a citizen's car in al-Jamalah area in the district, the official added.
Tuesday, 17-October-2017
Artillery of the army and popular shelled a gathering of Saudi-paid mercenaries in al-Moqadra area in Serwah district of Marib province, a military official said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, dozens of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed and others injured in Wadi al-Theek in the district, the official added.
Monday, 16-October-2017
The army and popular forces carried out on Monday unique military operations in Taiz province.

A military official said that a number of Saudi-paid mercenaries were killed at the hands of the army and popular forces in al-Jazami Hill in al-Kadaha area in al-Ma'afer district.
Monday, 16-October-2017
A Saudi aggression fighter jet targeted a citizen's car driving in Fara area of Kutaf district in Saada province overnight, killing the driver and injuring his friend, a security official said on Monday.
Monday, 16-October-2017
The army artillery and popular committees launched a fierce attack on Saudi-paid mercenaries' sites in Jawf province, a military official said on Monday.

The attack destroyed a military vehicle belonging to the mercenaries and killed all on board in Sabran area in khab and shaaf district.
Sunday, 15-October-2017
Scores of Saudi enemy soldiers were killed and injured on Sunday when the army and popular forces repelled a Saudi military attempt to sneak into Shurfah site in the border province of Najran, a military official said.

The operation was accomplished successfully against the Saudi
Sunday, 15-October-2017
The army and popular committees have killed a total of 18 Saudi-paid mercenaries in sniper operations over the past hours in the central province of Marib, a military official said on Sunday.

Ten mercenaries were killed in Nehm district and eight others were killed in Serwah district, said the official.
Saturday, 14-October-2017
Saudi aggression warplanes have launched more than 49 airstrikes over the past hours on several residential areas across Yemen, a security official said on Sunday.
The airstrikes targeted the areas of Malahiz and Husama in Dhahir district, and areas Thuban, Masahif and Sdad in Bakim district of northern Saada province.
Thursday, 12-October-2017
The army and popular forces carried out an operation attack on Saudi-paid mercenaries' sites in al-Hawal area in Nehm district.

A local official said that the operation attack resulted in killing and injuring mercenaries, adding they also incurred heavy losses at their ranks

who we are     |    Advertising     |    contact us
All rights reserved © Almotamar Net, Developed by