Florists in Sana’a Athena Al-Absy [Archives:1997/47/Culture]

November 24 1997

Yemeni people in general do not tend to use flowers in various occasions such as weddings or use them as presents. Some people, however, are beginning to use flowers to express their emotions towards their nearest and dearest instead of sweets and other foods like they did in the past. There are, however, some exceptions. Women living in coastal areas such as Aden, Hodeida, and Mukalla adorn their hair with flowers, especially jasmine. In Taiz and some other mountainous regions, women and even men use basil to adorn their hair especially on Fridays when going to the mosque. Florist shops represent a new social phenomenon in Yemen. The first shop was opened two years ago. I visited one of these new florists on Hadda road to see how they are doing and ascertain the development in Yemeni taste.
In Moneer Al-Kahil’s shop there are gladiolas, gerberas, carnations, lilies, and dahlias. Large trees, however, are not in big demand so he doesn’t always stock them. “The demand for flowers has of course increased,” said Moneer; adding, “when I fist went into business, there were no florists in Sanaa.” Now there are around 60. Moneer’s customers are mainly female aged between 13 and 20 years. Many of them are university students. Also, people visiting patients at hospitals or going to wedding parties often buy flowers from him. “Many people buy flowers on mother’s day, new year’s day, birthdays, engagement ceremonies, etc,” he indicated. Also, flowers are used to decorate wedding halls and the new couple’s car. Foreigners often buy flowers for their own occasions and general adornments.
“Some people pay a certain amount and ask for a bouquet of flowers which I arrange myself. Others with better taste choose the types, colors, and number of flowers themselves.” According to Moneer, roses are particularly sought by customers for their beauty and pleasant scent while choosing carnations for lasting a long time before withering. Planted flowers are usually well looked after by the florist. But some customers neglect their plants until it’s too late when they come asking for fertilizers or pesticides. “A single flower costs a minimum of YR 60; while, bouquets usually costs somewhere in the range from YR 400 to YR 5000.” These florists still have a limited variety of flowers. Many Yemeni people still don’t recognize some types of flowers widely known in other countries. Planting flowers for commercial purposes may not have a particularly good market in Yemen. Many people still regard flowers as a luxury or something for Westerners only. They do not usually adorn their living rooms with vases of flowers. Many use artificial flowers instead of natural ones. Only some of the educated people consider flowers as a source of beauty in their lives.