Development is possible only when time is valued [Archives:2004/750/Viewpoint]

June 28 2004

The value of time is best appreciated in developed countries. It is unfortunate that in Arab countries, particularly in Yemen, time is given the least importance, and then we wonder why we are far behind.

Qat: the enemy of time
In Yemen, we suffer from an evil disease called 'qat'. By chewing qat for many hours in the afternoons until late at night, we are wasting valuable time that could have been used for many other more useful activities. In Sanaa and other cities, it is common to find men lying on the street sidewalks chewing qat, doing absolutely nothing useful. They pass time talking with each other and watching passers by. This is indeed a dangerous indication that our population is becoming a burden on, more than a source of help for, the country's development.

Employees and vacations
It is quite obvious that the value of time not recognized by many government employees, who take one vacation after another, and tend to escape their working environment for a cup of tea or for a chat with another employee somewhere in the corridors. This has become a widely accepted culture in government offices, but it is also of grave consequence for the pace of life and development in the country.
So many cases of frustrated investors, for instance, have been reported as those investors are faced by stagnant governmental procedures that are very slow and painfully bureaucratic. Eventually, the papers get processed after many days or weeks, or the investor loses patience and ends his plans for investment in the country.
This is a direct negative consequence of the disregard of time.

A few examples
There are very few examples of Yemeni leaders in their fields that are examples of the appropriate and efficient utilization of time. The institutions run by those few individuals are more like beehives in which all employees work in a dedicated and efficient matter. This consequently results in a positive reputation for the services of this institution.
Among those individuals -in the government sector- that I would like to mention gladly is Engineer Abdulmalik Al-Muallimi, who is the current Minister of Telecommunication & Information Technology. He has proven himself worthy of the post of minister and surpassed many expectations in the hard work and dedication he has demonstrated.
This has -as suggested earlier- indeed proven to be the vital element which made the ministry one of the most active and well-appreciated for its fabulous role in promoting communication related services and projects.
The least one could do is hope that others would take this minister as an example for his appreciation of and respect for time.

Prerequisite for a prosperous Yemen
The efficient utilization of time is essential for Yemen to progress and become prosperous. This can start with a slow but gradual process to introduce a culture of appreciation of time. This can only be achieved if proper and long-term strategies are applied in schools, the media, government, and other sectors to emphasize the value of time and if dedicated people like Mr. Muallimi are appreciated and encouraged.