Al-Buhrah: Historical traders of the glorious past [Archives:2005/876/Reportage]

September 12 2005

By Nazih Abdullah
Aden Bureau

Since oldest times, the city of Aden has been famous for trade. This came from the East, the Horn of Africa and India through Aden and into the Mediterranean. Aden was the epicenter of regional commerce, the center point of an ancient commercial compass.

During the 20th century and largely due to unfavorable domestic conditions, many Yemeni traders moved abroad, especially the gulf states. Then trade experienced a remarkable recession except in some commercial streets that reserved its ancient names such as the Commercial Zone in al-Tawahi where several activities are still pursued for offering services to tourists. In addition, there are other streets with an active trade movement in Kraiter where one can see al-Taweel, al-Sailah and al-Buhrah Market, the last of which is the most important as its name dates back several centuries ago.

The term 'al-Buhrah' means the community of people who pursue trade and manufacturing. These people settled down thousands of years ago in different parts of Yemen such the towns of Haraz, Manakha, Zabid, Hutaib, in addition to the town of Kraiter in the city of Aden. Al-Buhrah tour numerous Yemeni cities, pursuing religious rituals and visiting tombs of great Islamic figures.

Having made a tour in al-Buhrah Street, we obtained the following information:

Pursuit of Trade

Mr. Abdulmannan Noriddine says, “we have acquired the profession of trade since the old times , inherited from generation to generation. All al-Buhrah people in Aden practice the profession of trade mainly the trade of construction tools, and this activity is pursued not only in Aden, but there are many Buhrah people who are scattered in the Gulf countries and India.”

Regarding the tendency of citizens to buy construction tools, Abdulmannan said: “there is a good turnout and the trade movement started to be active in Aden better than it was before. If traders were given absolute power to import commodities through the Aden Port, the trade movement would be more and more active.” He indicated most of the entrepreneurial projects practiced in Aden attract investors to come with their construction tools and equipment and dispense with the local markets. So one can find that articles are stored due to very low sale rate.

“The UAE, particulary Dubai, is a hub of world trade. While establishing any entrepreneurial project, a trader relies on the local market in Dubai,” Abdulmannan explained. “In Yemen, the government exempts investors from paying tax on commodities entering the country, a fact with negative impact on owners of the local market who pay all the customs and tax duties.

Retardation of al-Buhrah trade movement

In this context, Nasser Abdunnabi, a trader of perfumes and fragrance spoke about the retardation of al-Buhrah trade movement, “al-Buhrah people came to Aden hundred years ago and practiced trade. There was al-Buhrah Market in al-Tawahi that pursues the electronic toys and other activities, but after the departure of the British occupation and the issuance of the nationalization law, a great number of al-Buhrah people were compelled to leave the city.” “What remained was al-Aelah Market in al-Tawahi that pursue watch and glass decors repairs. There are still many families in al-Sheikh Othman and Khor Makser of al-Buhrah origin but they don not pursue any trade activities.” Nasser pointed out.

He added in the town of Kraiter, there is a small number of Buhrah people who pursue the trade of construction tools. Concerning the trade of perfumes, it was practiced hundreds of years ago in Aden and Abdunnabi Family is still pursuing this kind of trade.

Investment should be promoted

On his part, Hussein Fakhriddine, one of Aden inhabitants who is a construction tools trader, a profession inherited from his forefathers explained: “the Yemeni governorate should boost investment and investors in Aden in all the tourist and industrial areas. This will have a positive influence on lives of citizens; help improve the national economy and boost small business shops. The government should take decisions to facilitate tax-related procedures at the Aden Port.”

With respect the increase in the prices of construction tools, Hussein clarified, “this is untrue. We import goods of high quality and never have the intention to deceive buyers, contrarily to some business shops who exploit citizens. We have a fixed price list and never play on prices.”

He added, “we have an association, chaired by Sheikh Qutbaddine Fakhriddine that offers charitable works for the poor in Aden.”