Despite integrating into new communitiesYemeni expatriates maintain identities [Archives:2005/871/Business & Economy]

August 25 2005

By Nabil al-Osaidi
For the Yemen Times

The latest census conducted last December revealed that Yemeni expatriates in Arab and non-Arab countries number up to 1.7 million, however the Ministry of Expatriates' Affairs estimated the number at 5.7 million and all them are Yemenis in origin. 4.5 million Yemeni expatriates live in Indonesia, 100 thousands in India and the same number in Malaysia while 30 thousand Yemenis are equally scattered in Singapore, Brunei, and Comoro Islands

Yemenis amounting up to 700 thousands live in Saudi Arabia, 500 thousands in U.A.E. 25 thousands in Djibouti. Additionally, there are thousands of Yemenis in eastern African countries:

Kenya, Madagascar, Tanzania and Somalia, in some American countries mainly the U.S.A. and in Europe, particularly Britain where there are around 22 thousand Yemeni expatriates.

What evokes the question is the extent of cohesion and traditions showing the identities of Yemeni expatriates scattered in different countries.

What distinguishes the Yemeni immigrants in the five continents is that they maintain traditions and relations with their relatives and nation.

Undersecretary of the Ministry of Expatriates' Affairs Ibrahim al-Rashid mentioned that Yemeni expatriates still enjoy the traditions of their homeland and the years of immigration never have an effect on their achievements or stability. In any country, one can find that Yemenis behave in the way of being representatives and ambassadors for their country.

In his study on “Images of the Yemeni immigration and expatriation facts” Ibrahim al-Rashid stated that aspects of cooperation and solidarity pervade the Yemeni communities in different countries. The study indicates that the Yemeni expatriates suffer from some problems that are attributed to the lack of awareness, low care levels and contact difficulties.

According to the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Expatriate's Affairs, the situations and circumstances of Yemeni expatriates differ from one country to another because of either the nature of systems and general circumstances in those countries or the culture of expatriates themselves, and sometimes due to both factors.

Yemeni expatriates in the Gulf countries suffer from the consequences of events and changes the region witnessed over the last few years. Such events and changes led the Arab workforce to be replaced by laborers from Asian countries such as India, Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan, etc.

In addition, some sectors and businesses dispensed with the workforce and tended to use mechanized business instead, thus causing Yemeni expatriates, mainly in Britain, to live on pensions or very low salaries that cannot meet all their needs due to expensive living.

The situation of Yemeni expatriates in the U.S.A. seems to be different as they face a variety of difficulties and obstacles at work.

At the same, Yemenis in Britain and the U.S.A. endure two hazardous problems, the first of which is that their children often lose their cultural identities and the second is manifested in their being unable to cope with the new life.

The two problems may disappear in the Yemeni communities residing in Indonesia, India, Singapore and Malaysia as they immigrated to those countries in the old times and have become fully integrated in the new societies at the expense of relations with their homeland.