Letters to the Editor [Archives:2003/53/Letters to the Editor]

December 24 2003

An American tourist’s comments on Yemen
I was a tourist in Yemen from November 28 to December 14, 2002. I may have been the only American tourist in Yemen at that time, but most certainly, I was the only female American tourist.
Yemen’s tour was an experience that I am so glad I was able to have. But it isn’t easy being a tourist in Yemen. The Minister of Tourism claims to want tourists, but it is very difficult to travel around Yemen. Because I am an American, I could not get a travel permit to travel to Hadramout without hiring a car and driver at great expense, which prohibited me from going to that historic and unique region. In order to travel from Sana’a to Aden, I needed a special permit. Then I needed another to return to Sana’a!
The money changers wanted to charge me extra fees for changing US dollars to rials, because the “money was too old” (1996, and clean and crisp) but then gave me Yemeni money that was dirty, torn and faded.
Merchants wanted to charge me exorbitant prices just because I was a foreigner. One merchant wanted to charge me YR 12,500 for an ‘abaya’ (traditional Yemeni black robe for women)! I purchased a similar one down the way for YR 2,000.
I was told that for my safety, I should say that I am Canadian, and not an American.
In general and in spite of all that, Yemeni people are warm and friendly, and the country is so unique with its Sana’ani architecture and the history.
But to Westerners, trash, garbage and rubble in the streets and covering the hillsides is very unsightly. I did see some trash receptacles at the Tawili tanks park, but very seldom any place else, and no one was using them.
And the constant chewing of Ghat, even by people at work was astonishing! To me that seems the equivalent of seeing people smoking marijuana or getting drunk all day everywhere. This is just not the type of thing one expects to see at banks, post offices, stores or while in taxis and buses! It seems like a contradiction to have Muslims ban alcohol, and then be high all the time on Ghat.
Bonnie Dee Higgins
[email protected]
Lessons from the scud story
The US knew of the loading of the scud missiles from intelligence information obtained via satellite imagery. The US also knew from other intelligence sources that the destination was Yemen.
The questions rise from the fact that:
1. Yemen had unofficially promised not to buy any more scud missiles
2. The missiles were concealed under bags of cement
3. They were shipped on an unflagged vessel
4. The name of the vessel was painted over with a Cambodian name
5.The Yemeni government at first denied that the destination was Yemen.
The missiles did indeed belong to Yemen, this was a fact recognized by the US. But the US had two messages to send.
First, that it knows what is going on in North Korea and is watching closely.
And second, that the Yemeni government, whose participation is important in the global war against terror, was willing to lie and we now know it very well.
Marvin Cruzan
[email protected]