Necessity or vanity [Archives:2005/868/Viewpoint]

August 15 2005

Yemen's economy, being one of the poorest in the world, is impacting all aspects of life, especially social. Gradually the middle class is disappearing and the poverty rate is increasing tremendously reaching more than 70% of the total population. Simultaneously, the situation has created a new extremely rich class whose sole purpose in life is how to compete in spending money.

This fact becomes very clear during these days, as this is the weddings season. Most of the weddings take place during this period because of summer time; the weather and vacation encourage people to plan their celebrations in this time of the year. Nevertheless, this goes for all classes of the society in Yemen, both the rich and the poor prefer to get married in summer. And if you are living near a wedding hall or hotel then these days will be continuous hell because of the noise and crowds.

The worrying issue here is not the noise, but rather the lavish expenses spent on such celebrations by the few rich people of this country. While there are many poor people not being able to pay the minimum expenses of their weddings there is a minority who spends more than 20 million Yemeni riyals on a single wedding night and this is not an exaggeration. The fashion parade that is displayed during those weddings is another manifestation of how obsessed some people have become with vanity and showing off, in a time when this is the last thing Yemen needs.

However, it seems that the government is beginning to realize this fact as the president's speech to the ministry of finance last week reflects, when he emphasized the need to economize the government spending and ensure that the money goes where it should. Unfortunately although this speech comes in time to bring to attention the imbalance between the economic situation of the country and the spending, there have been no legislative rules that organize this spending, especially with the spread of corruption. It is also noticed that most of the lavish weddings are those of high-ranking government officials and rich businessmen whose responsibility to play a role model in the society is the strongest.

There are a few attempts to help the young people of poor and middle segments of the society to get married through group weddings. This is a good sign but it needs encouraging, and the rich people in this country need to feel their responsibility instead of competing with each other on who's son or daughter's wedding was more lavish and lasted more days or was the talk of the town. This is only a message that I hope would reach some people in Yemen who possess the resources and lack the responsibility.