Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Khater, “Why Do Yemeni Investors Thoroughly Avoid Investing In Yemen?” [Archives:2001/31/Interview]

July 30 2001

Abdullah Bin Mohammed Al-Khater, 47 years old is a father of five children- four sons and a daughter. Working at the diplomatic corps for 26 years. He was appointed as the Qatari ambassador to Sana’a in 1998 and ends his missions during this week. During his stay in Yemen he gained the love and friendship of the tens of Yemenis due to his mildness and good relations with all diplomatic and social classes.
He also gained the high respect and appreciation of all Yemeni officials for the great efforts he has been exerting to cement and deepen the brotherly ties and bilateral cooperation between the Yemeni and Qatari peoples. Yemen Times journalist Mohammed Bin Salam got the opportunity to interview him and asked him the following questions :
Q: Do you mind telling us about your personal impressions during your stay in Yemen?
A: Frankly speaking, when I have been first informed about my new appointment as ambassador to Yemen, I was upset and disappointed because I have never been thinking even to visit this country. The news we used to know about Yemen were really deformed, all we knew about Yemen in the past that it is a country still living in the middle ages and most of its people are still ignorant. That was the news then. What is worse is that the news is not only promoted by Arab and international media, for the Yemeni media has a hand in this also. Anyhow the resolution of the Qatari Foreign Ministry was not to be altered and I had nothing but to accept my fate and I came to Yemen. But since my arrival my opinion about Yemen and the Yemenis was completely changed. On the contrary to the wide spread news I have found different things.
During the three years I have spent in Yemen I have found that :
The media even the Yemeni have maltreated Yemen because they did not show the real face of this beautiful country and its friendly people. All that we used to know about Yemen is killing, kidnapping explosions and the sort of. This left bad impressions about Yemen as the core of tension, clashing and insecurity. Praise be to the Almighty God I found Yemen a very secure country. Such random individual accidents might occur here and there completely of what is happening in other countries. As a matter of fact I have found in Yemen the real Arabian Characteristics which have never been mixed with any foreign civilization or naturalizations. The original Arab traditions that have been missed by so many Arab nations. The Yemenis are characterized by credibility, faith, honesty, friendship and natural personality. I really confess my disability to express my impressions about Yemen in details but can tell you that the things which made my stay in Yemen more interesting is the social life here, people are still good in their relationships.
What made me happy during my stay in Yemen is the care and hospitality my wife received from Yemeni women. And no wonder my wife and children have been crying for leaving Sana’a.
I have spent most of my life out of my country but the most exciting period I spent in Yemen. This is not courteous speech for I am not obliged to do so. This is my real impression about Yemen and the Yemenis.
The other thing which contributed a lot to make my mission a success in Yemen is the appropriate diplomatic atmosphere available in Yemen.
The diplomats enjoy their office in Yemen due to many facilities and uncomplicated process of communication with many senior officials as meetings are conducted without bureaucracy and more protocols the sort wide spread in other counties which hinder missions of the diplomats.
In Yemen, if you would like to meet a minister or the prime minister himself you get usually a permission within the same day you made your application while randomly your application is delayed to the other day.. You can easily here communicate with senior officials even through the line while such a means is forbidden in other countries.
Q: How do you evaluate the fraternal relations between Yemen and Qatar?
A: The Yemeni-Qatari ties are better than being distinguished. They are deep in history and fixed like mountains. After the mercy of God the favor of this refers to his highness the prince of Qatar and his excellency the president of the Republic of Yemen. We as diplomats are moving under the umbrella they made for us. The bases they have founded for give us good motives to push them forward. This is our duty to make viewpoints more closer to each other, providing opportunities a good atmosphere to improve these ties in all levels.
Being a lucky man, During my work in Yemen, the Yemeni-Qatari bilateral ties were improved. I do not claim myself to be the only contributive, God forbids, though I have done my best to improve these ties.
Q: What are the projects which have been achieved during the three years you have spent in Yemen?
A: During this time, the Yemeni-Qatari Joint Committee was established and signed so many agreements which are considered principals. I made efforts to let the most important agreements be signed, among of which was the agreement of establishing the Yemeni-Qatari Businessmen Council. For I believe that relations are not excluded to official sectors and the official relations could make faster prosperous reactions. The role of the government is to facilitate their job and business.
Q: What restrains the Qatari capitals to be invested in Yemen?
A: I might answer your question with an inquiry :
What prevents the Yemeni investor to have business in Yemen?!
We know all that great Yemeni capitals are invested abroad why these are not encouraged to return to Yemen then?!
During my stay in Yemen I have invited a number of Yemeni and Qatari businessmen. I made this personally of course. The meetings enabled the businessmen to know each other and sit together to exchange opinions. You should know that great Qatari capitals are invested in Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Jordan, Gulf countries, Lebanon Syria and even in Iraq. Other capitals are invested in Morocco and other countries.
Q: What restrains the Qatari capitals to be invested in Yemen despite its abundant opportunities and appropriate environment of investment due to its strategic geography, location and history?
A: No doubt it is a country that is rich with natural resources, mineral, fish wealth fertilized lands. To me the capital need not to be directed, it is something that resembles the current of water which never stops but on a land which suits its existence.
A lot of things should be available to encourage investment i.e. well infrastructure and appropriate atmosphere for investment which guarantees the rights of the investors.
The world now is a small village. The Internet could aid you to find the appropriate country for investment and those which are not fit for investment. Advertisements are not enough to attract investors just provide a good atmosphere for investment and wait.
Q: What are the reasons which hinder the Yemenis’ employment in Qatar? What are the conditions and requirements demanded by Qatari institutions to accept Yemeni manpower ?
A: Nothing forbids the Yemenis employment in Qatar. On the contrary a lot of the Yemenis are there. Since my childhood may be fifty years ago I find the Yemeni man working in all fields in Qatar. You should better ask, why the Yemeni labor forces are not organized in Qatar? We hope to see the Yemeni man working either in Qatar or any country in the Gulf region. The available job opportunities in Qatar are of two kinds and I do not think they are to be accepted by the Yemeni people neither we accept to let our brothers working on them especially in the field of home services. Other traditional Technical skills are not required in Qatar because they are already available. These skills are also available in Yemen but let us say not well arranged. During my discussions with Yemeni officials on this same subject I used to confirm the importance to improving the skills of the Yemeni cadre through increasing the number of technical and vocational training centers for the international markets only demand the well skilled laborers not only the gulf markets.
During the last year a Yemeni- Qatari joint agreement was signed concerning organizing the Yemeni labor forces in Qatar. Ever since the achievement of this agreement I am still pursuing my Yemeni brothers to prepare for it specially organizing flights for the Yemeni businessmen to Qatar. I made agreements with the Qatari chamber of commerce for this purpose. I met with all Yemeni officials in concern for discussing the subject I only got mere invitations and just invitations and now I am leaving while not a one flight is organized. These flights would have been cooperated a lot to improve the commercial exchange between the two brotherly countries.
Q: What are the personal and official outcomes you have come out with from Yemen?
A: I am leaving Yemen with a great wealth but not a materialistic one for money is not the only treasure in this world. I am so in debited to this country and its kind people. I do not know how to reciprocate them. I am always saying that am departing Sana’a but my heart is still there.
Q: What counsels do you want to make and to whom you are addressing them ?
A: Throughout my stay in Yemen I have noticed a lot of odd things and I hope the Yemeni people would get rid of them as soon as possible. I found people in Yemen missing enthusiasm and patriotism. They are belonging to their parties, tribes and ideologies more than their nation. Nationalism is wider term than all of these. In developed countries democracy, party life and other blocs are only made to build nations and push the democratic life further. When people began loosing nationalism, the democratic terms turn to mass destruction weapons which destroy nations without mercy. The opposing factions all over the world are made as mirrors and public monitors of the government. But the opposing factions should not only refuse whatever is done by the government they should cooperate at least to suggest alterations for building a better nation.
The Yemeni citizens should take things as nationals neither belonging to the government nor the opposition . They should listen to each other and each should respect the other’s opinion as one of the English philosophies said ” Once you are involved in discussions with someone else you have to listen to him carefully for he might sees the sun from the door while you see it from the window”. We are having the same
goal but might have different means to reach it. So the Yemenis should belong more to their nation rather than to their tribes, blocs, parties or any other ideologies.
I hope that the Yemenis would shoulder their responsibilities in serving their nation and should believe that the more democracy and freedom aims first at building the nations not destroying it and defaming it.