Amin Dirhem Enters Who’s Who [Archives:1998/37/Business & Economy]
Mr. Amin Dirhem Mohammed is Chairman of the Board of the Tihama Tractors & Engineering Co. Ltd., the Tihama Computers Co. Ltd., the National Trading & Services Co. and the Tihama Travel and Tours.
The International Who’s Who of Professionals indicates, ‘Mr. Dirhem has an impressive professional background.’
‘Utilizing more than 30 years of experience, he assesses potential projects, calculating possible risks and benefits, and tenders the contracts.’
Bin Sallam of Yemen Times met Mr. Dirhem, on the occasion of his recent admission into the International Who’s Who of Professionals. He filed the following interview.
Q: Can you give us an idea about your beginnings in business? What were the difficulties you faced. Are you satisfied with what you achieved in your life?
A: After the revolution of September, 1962, Mr. Mohammed Qayed Abdu, Mr. Mohammed Saeed Awadh, Mr. Abdulqawi Maqawi and I began our business activity with the French Alps, then a big company operating in Aden.
In 1967, with Mr. Mohammed Qayed Al-Zo’aiteri, I established the Tihama Tractors & Eng. Co. Ltd. We supplied Al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa, Al-Thawra hospital in Hodeida and other hospitals and clinics in Yemen with the necessary equipment and facilities. Also in 1967, we began our first trade venture by importing tractors from the former Yugoslavia and digging artesian water wells.
Q: The Tihama Co. is one of the biggest companies in Yemen and it has always supported the economy of the country. How do you evaluate the projects of the company until now, and what are your plans for the 21st century?
A: The Tihama Company has many projects in the electricity, water, communication and health sectors. It directly contributes to the country’s development. Cooperating with the Siemens and Deutz German companies, we established the first electricity stations in Sanaa, Taiz and Hodeida after the revolution.
Tihama was the first company to install a modern telephone network of the Siemens technology. Moreover, our company established water supply projects in several Yemeni areas like Hajah, Ibb and Haifan.
Our future projects will be more in tune with modern information technology. We also aim at improving tourism because, we realize, tourism is a key factor in confidently going into the 21st century.
Q: How many international companies are you the agents of in Yemen?
A: We are the agents of a group of German, Swedish, British and American companies, most important of which are Siemens, Deutz, Atlas Copco, Kent Water, Meter, Lufthansa, Beckman Culter, Hospitalia, and Osram.
Q: You have recently become a member of the International Who’s Who of Professionals. What does this organization mean to you? Could you tell us about its position in the world of international business?
A: The International Who’s Who of Professionals introduces the professional and civic achievements of its members, those who are highly successful in their life. The organization’s directory lists the members’ achievements and contributions to the business world.
In its quarterly publication, News Letter, it assists expanding contacts among international businessmen.
Q: According to which criteria were you chosen to be a member of Who’s Who?
A: They chose me according to their criteria, which I have fulfilled and, of course, according to the judgment of the Board of Trustees in North Carolina, USA.
Q: What privileges do you get by being a member of Who’s Who?
A: A lot. The organization would list a member’s names in an excellent edition of its directory, thereby make him/her well-known in the international business community.
In addition, a Who’s Who member gets discounts on goods, traveling expenses, telephone services, real estates, modern cars, hotels, adverts, health care, transportation and emergency services in many countries around the world.
Q: How do you see the future of investment in Yemen?
A: I feel optimistic about investment in the coming years. I hope that the reforms program will turn out well. Some tangible results have been achieved so far. More needs to be done, though.
Q: As a vice-chairman of the Yemeni-German Friendship Association (established in 1990), can you tell us about the plans and activities of this body? Who supports it?
A: We try to continuously improve the relationship between Yemen and Germany through holding meetings, seminars, lectures, and celebrating the national days of the two countries.
Additionally, we publish a magazine which tells the Yemeni people about all aspects of life in Germany: political policy, economy, culture, etc. In short, the association aims at improving communication and cooperation, and developing better understanding between Yemen and Germany.
It is supported by some businessmen who have economic ties with Germany. Besides, it receives monthly financial support from the Presidency.
Q: What about your interest in arts? I understand that you are also a patron of some artists.
A: This makes me drift back to my school days. I was the head of the students committee at Al-Baderi school in Aden, from 1949 to 1957. Later I became the chairman of the Former Students Society of the same school until 1979. We had a theater in which we held musical performances. During those years, I worked with the now famous singer Abu Bakr Salem Belfaqih and the first Yemeni actress Nabeeha Ghoraim. I knew the artists Ahmed Yusuf Al-Zabidi, Mohammed Saleh Hamood, Abdulqareem Tawfeeq, the monologist Fouad Al-Sharif, Fat’hia Al-Sagheera and her bother Hasan Faqeeh. When I moved to Taiz in 1960, I met Ali Al-Anisi. Our relation lasted until he died in April, 1981.
In 1966, we established a production company – Songs of Sanaa. We wanted then to record Al-Anisi’s songs on gramophone records. We recorded 10 of his best songs in Beirut with the Al-Rahbani band. We also recorded songs for Forsan Khaleefa, Ahmed Qasim, and Fat’hia Al-Sagheera in Cairo.
During the 1960s, some Egyptian singers used to come to Yemen to entertain the Egyptian troops stationed here. I met then Abdulhaleem Hafez and Moharam Fouad, through whom we recorded some Yemeni songs with Egyptian singers. For example, Faiza Ahmed sang the Yemeni song “Yakhi Al-Sagheer” (my little brother).
Mr. Ali Al-Khader has been always my companion. We have worked together since the 1960s, when we were working for USAID, until now.
From the early 1970s until now I associated with Mohammed Morshid Naji, Ahmed Qasim, Ali Al-Sima, Ayoob Taresh, Abdulbasit Absi, Ahmed Fat’hi, Mohammed S. Abdullah, Abdulhakeem Rashed, Fahmi & Ihab Torki, Hamood Al-Jonaid and his son Waleed, Abdulrahman Al-Haddad, Ahmed Al-Ma’atari, and Abdulbasit Al-Harithi.
Q: Any last comments?
A: Something I feel very happy about, are the great efforts made by President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Prime Minister Al-Iryani to reform the situation in the country. I’m sure these are good steps towards putting Yemen safely and confidently into the 21st century.