Hard Times for Educated Yemenis [Archives:1998/43/Viewpoint]

October 26 1998

Last week, the Yemen Times announced it had six vacancies. The reaction was quite telling. I want to use such reaction to shed light on what happened.
1. Immediate Response:
Within the first 24 hours, the Yemen Times received about thirty applications. Two days later, the number had reached 41 persons, and by the time I was writing this editorial – four days later, there were over a hundred applications from Sanaa, Aden, Taiz, Hodeidah, Ibb and Mukalla.
To us at the Yemen Times, this was good news. It was one more proof to show the immediate and extensive outreach of the paper. It showed we had readers waiting for the YT to come out. It pointed to the power of the message and the out-reach of the paper.
2. Flooding Supply:
The response also shows the pool of manpower that is sitting idle. The majority of the applicants are in their 20s, and quite a few had never worked before. These young people are mostly university graduates who are looking for any kind of work for reasonable pay.
It was frustrating to send back all those young men and women, because we could only take six of them. They all deserve a chance, but the paper can only take six. I could understand the feeling of those young men and women as they anxiously waited for a decision. Those who could not make it have the right to feel bad because they have done their end of the deal – went to school and succeeded. Now they want society to give them an opportunity, which isn’t there.
I blame the economic stagnation for this unemployment problem. But stagnation is really the result rather than the cause. It is the result of stupid policies by the authorities. Let us look at examples:
a. Insecurity:
One of the major hurdles to new investments and activities is the lack of adequate security. When we talk about an environment conducive to business, the basic requirement is law and order. That is not available in Yemen.
b. Corruption:
Many investors will tell you that something like a third of any project cost is really bribes, primarily to complete meaningless paperwork. The government bureaucracy increases the cost of doing business in this country. In addition, many projects require patrons who will fend off parasites – the same service offered by the mafia groups in other places.
c. Moody Decisions:
Our officials keep changing the laws. They change the directives even more often. This means that an investor cannot really count on an existing structure of rights and obligations, because these can change, and they do.
Let me go back to the jobless young Yemenis. These people are going to fight back against society and the system if their needs are not met. And what they are asking is not impossible. They want a job so that they can interact positively with society. If we do not find jobs for them, they are surely going to turn against us.
Be ware!
Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz AL-SAQQAF
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher