Deputy Chief of Yemeni community in Riyadh to YT:”Yemen is in our hearts and we will do all we can to support its development” [Archives:2005/858/Reportage]

July 11 2005

By Saeed al Batati
For the Yemen Times
Al-Mukalla, Hadhramout

The collapse of Marib dam has caused a massive immigration from Yemen to many countries .And that is the reason why many tribes in Egypt, Syria and other countries are descendants from Yemen.

In the modern age, due to difficult living circumstances, Yemenis left their homes to many destinations, especially to the neighboring Gulf countries. For example, in Saudi Arabia there are over 450,000 Yemenis who have been living their for decades. Most of them immigrated after the oil exploration.

In the oil-rich state, they have very lucrative jobs with wages ten times more than wages in Yemen. Consequently, they are well-known businessmen with fame not only in Saudi Arabia but in the world as well. The expatriates haven't forgotten their homeland, it is still uppermost in their minds. Annually, the border between the two adjacent countries is flooded with thousands of the expatriates who want to spend the vacation with their relatives. However, others have a nodding acquaintance with Yemen and are yet to decide to resume their contacts with the place of birth.

Omer Yahya al Batati, deputy chief of the Yemeni community in Riyadh, and other prominent figures of the community were in al-Mukalla to share the Yemeni people on the re-unification day. He kindly and courteously responded to my invitation for an interview with the Yemen Times. He took me to a tent on the coast of al- Mukalla arranged for a long night concert .I grabbed the opportunity to ask him about the Yemenis in the neighboring country, their concerns, problems and the connections with the homeland. My first question was “Could you shed more light on the community, please?”

Mr. Batati said that the community was established as collaboration between the expatriates and the government. He outlined two goals for the community “The first objectives was to link the Yemenis with one another so that they could speak with one voice. It helps to solve the problems through co-operation. The second objective is to remind the expatriates about their duties towards Yemen. So it is a bridge. We assert that there is an urgent need for their investment and participation in the development process in the fatherland. To consolidate and facilitate our work, The Honorable president issued a decree to form the Ministry of the Expatriates Affairs. This trend evinces the leadership's concerns for the expatriates.” Then I asked about for this purpose. The 58 years old businessman responded” The unceasing calls by the president for the businessmen to invest in Yemen didn't fall in deaf ears. On the contrary, the unforeseen prosperity that Yemen is passing through in the investment sector has tempted the investors abroad. In other words, the specter of confiscating people's properties by the former regimes has faded away for ever”. He spoke optimistically about the future of investment.”I forecast an impending boom in the sector of investment as far as these policies by the government go on”

After that, I asked my third question “Could you make a comparison between Yemen before and after 22 May 1990 from your own point of view? And is this the country which you dreamt of?”

“The 22 May is a historical day for all Yemenis inside or outside the country. Every one is now reaping its fruits .Briefly, before that day, we were two separate states with high tension along the border. However; the bitter enemies have become brothers.

For a Yemeni citizen residing abroad, it is a dream which has come true. There are appreciable changes in all fields; health, education, transportation tc. Frankly, Yemen has flourished with president Saleh at the helm”.

As I was talking to him, another question came up .”What is your role in supporting the Saudi government in its war on terrorism?”

“Terrorism is a fatal epidemic .Everyone is its possible target .It was regarded as an eccentric act against the society. In the same way, the Saudi authority lined up to warn the people of the stakes of terrorism. We, a large community ,are among the Saudi population ,so what hurts them will affect us directly .We have never wavered to condemn all kinds of terrorism which are unrelated to the religion of tolerance. Thanks God ,the Yemeni expatriates positively reacted to the call of wisdom” .Again and again ,I can say that we are in favor of the Saudi government in eliminating the renegades. I'm quite certain that it will finally pull off”. He said .

The education of the foreigners in the kingdom is a thorny issue .They aren't allowed to enroll themselves in the Saudi universities .Only the public education is permitted. So, they are obliged to study outside the kingdom. However, not all of them could do so, some students left school because they couldn't afford the expenses of education outside. He thanked the government of the Custodian of two Holy Mosques for offer of grants to Yemenis in the Saudi universities and wished more.

As he was about to leave, I asked him whether he had anything to add ” I would like to conclude the interview by saying that Yemen is at our fore-front mind and we will do what ever is at our disposal to have it developed .It remains to me to thank the Yemen Times for giving me the opportunity to speak about the community”.