Friendly relations started with Canadian wheat coming 40 years ago Canadians make impact in Yemen [Archives:2003/09/Interview]

February 3 2003

Yemeni-Canadian relationships have been firmly established since they started during the 26 September Revolution when wheat came from the Canadian government.
In 1989, Canadian Nexen came to Yemen and that has positively affected both Yemen and the company. It represents a good investment and is good for the standing relationships between Yemen and Canada.
That has been obvious in the visit to Canada by President Saleh in March 2000 to strengthen the bilateral relationship and open new and wide skylines for tangible development in investments in Yemen.
To know more about the Yemeni-Canadian relationship and the lives of Yemeni in Canada, along with the possibility of opening a full Canadian embassy in Yemen (at this time, there is a consulate office), Mohammed al-Masani, of The Yemen Times, interviewed Abdu al-Malik Zabara, Canada honorary consul and the chairman of Yemeni-Canadian Friendship Association.
Q: Could you give us a brief view on the Yemeni-Canadian relationship?
A: The Yemeni-Canadian relationship has dated back to 26 September 1962 and formed after the aid the Canadian government gave. Thus, Canadian wheat has gained a good reputation.
Later, Canadian companies started coming to work in Yemen. The first company was Canadian Oxy whose name changed to Canadian Nexen. It was first in the south of Yemen for along time and another company also came.
Canadian Nexen has had a great effect on the relations as it is very cooperative with the government and the society in which they work in (al-Maseila-Hadramout). That’s represented in the support, assistance, employee training and job priority given to Yemenis, as well as its strong relationship with the Yemenis and landowners, either during the digging or pumping.
Q: What’s your evaluation of the level of the Yemeni-Canadian relations and the size of Canadian aid?
A: The relations are very excellent and continuously developed, especially after the visit of President Ali Abduallah Saleh. That has made Canadians think of opening an embassy in Yemen, and give more aid and external support also.
Canada has rendered many aid deals through many channels in different fields. One of the most important ones is the one submitted by the Canadian ambassador.
Canada has also an office for aid in Sana’a that has been annually spending about $500,000 in various fields; in health care and education, for women and handicapped associations.
Sometimes Canada give aid through UN or the Canadian International Developmental Agency.
Q: What about Yemeni immigrants in Canada especially after 11 September?
A: The number of Yemeni immigrants is so few compared with the immigrants from other Arabic countries. But as I have known they are in a good situation and Canada welcomes any Yemeni. According to consulate information no Yemeni who has submitted for exams has been rejected until now.
Canada usually submits a limited number for every country and not restricting to one class or sex. They are trying to have many nationalities in Canada. Few Yemenis submit to live in Canada. It is worthy mentioning that Yemeni students who are in America moved to study in Canada after 11 September attack.
Q: What are the important fields of Canadian investments in Yemen? And what are the obstacles of investments in Yemen?
A: The biggest Canadian investment fields are in oil. Canadian Nexon is considered the biggest oil company in Yemen and there is a new company which is Encana that is considered the biggest Canadian oil company. It is working now in two fields and they appear to have bright future.
Regarding to the investment impediments, they are the same that any investor faces in any country. However, the Yemeni government tries to submit more facilities as the government realizes that Canadians love the field they work in without interference in the policy and internal affairs of the country.
Q: How do you find Canadian tourism in Yemen and what are the effects of the USS Cole and Limburg incidents on Yemen’s tourism?
A: Canadians hope to tour in Yemen and any Canadian who has come to Yemen hopes to come again to Yemen. However, the country and the region circumstances probably prevent tourism prosperity. Certainly, if any problem happens in Yemen, its tourism gets hurt, not only from Canada but also from the rest of the world’s countries.
Recently, a number of tourists have arrived Aden.
We in the Yemeni-Canadian Association has been working for four years to enhance relationships between the two countries through various activities of the association.
Q: What’s your vision for the future relationship between the two countries?
A: The future, insha’allah, will be bright and the relationship will be stronger. I expect that other companies will come to Yemen. The only thing we want is regional stability and facilitating the procedures of the coming investor to Yemen.