Happy 2008! [Archives:2008/1117/Viewpoint]

December 3 2008

It is impossible with the start of the New Year not to reflect on the past or turn with anticipation to the future. 2007 has been a significant year in terms of political, social, cultural, economic happenings. Yemen has always been going through some kind of turmoil, but this time I feel it is different. For one, the players at the top level are changing. Some have died, like Late Sheikh Abullah bin Hussein Al-Ahmar, who was supposedly the most powerful man in the country (even more powerful than the president himself). And some have risen, such as some of the opposition leaders in the south who have been using less sophisticated methods to display their displeasure at the system, such as blocking roads, kidnapping oil containers, or simply holding violent riots.

Amongst all this, there is the Yemeni citizen, from all over the country, barely surviving. And here comes the ridiculous poverty report issued by the Ministry of Planning saying that some poverty indicators have improved.

Facing a new year is one of the times when I wish I had any other profession than being an editor. Perhaps having a night club at this time of year would have been more profitable, but then again it's not about money, is it?

Being an editor, I feel obliged to do the math for Yemen Times readers and try and summarize the events of the exiting year, as well as look into my crystal ball and tell the readers what their advancing year will be like. Luckily, because of the climate change my crystal ball is a little foggy, and so I will not be able to say much about the future, other than it looks “foggy” full with turbulences. But I have no global warming excuse to help me escape from reminding us all what a horrible year it has been.

Well, other than the creation of “freedom squares” all over the country, and having one doze after the other of price hikes. There is the fact that many new products which are not suitable for human consumption have been flooding the market throughout the year. There is also the water problem, as some of the organizations working in the water sector have been raising the red alert trying to draw our attention to an eminent drought. There is the population explosion that would at least triple the number of Yemenis in 40 years time. There is the on-going Sa'ada war in the north and the thousands of dislocated people.

But hey, we have a new center for treating cancer just inaugurated in Aden. It's true that it does not have enough equipments or qualified staff, but it's a start. There are those projects that we keep having in every place we celebrate the Yemeni Unity, like the projects in Ibb governorate which were designed for the occasion, and collapsed the moment the last VIP left the city heading back to Sana'a.

And of course the tens of training courses on gender, development, education tc. Maybe it wasn't a bad year after all. Might as well celebrate the New Year anyway.

All being said and done, I know what my New Year resolution is going to be; From 2008 onwards, I promise never reflect on the past, and never to look back. What is yours?