Our untapped resources [Archives:2006/966/Viewpoint]

July 24 2006

So many international organizations and donor country representatives repeatedly ask this question: What can be done to promote democracy and freedom in Yemen?

I'm sure there are a hundred or more answers to this question and perhaps all of them could be equally correct. Yet, there's one answer I haven't heard much – in fact, never. Whenever this question is approached, our thinking usually is limited to the resources and problems we have within, such as more education for our youth and eradicating our corrupt officials.

However, so far, no one has said anything about our countrymen and women who have migrated from Yemen and are now successful individuals in more developed parts of the world. I believe it is they who can promote democracy, development, freedom or whatever in Yemen – and in magical speed. This is because they had the opportunity to learn to function in an environment we are as yet striving to achieve. In fact, many of them are significant key factors helping to improve the already relatively advanced systems of which they are a part.

These men and women are educated, empowered and enjoying freedom of thought and self-esteem that those residing in Yemen unfortunately do not. They are individuals who can help make change happen more quickly because they have experienced it in other contexts.

If there was a way to coordinate between development movements inside Yemen and our educated men and women outside, then surely it would be one of the most effective ways to promote democracy and freedoms in Yemen.

It's not a very difficult task. Our countrymen and women already are eager to see their country out of its misery. And thanks to communication technology, they are just an internet link away.

I propose that we start by encouraging communication between Yemenis inside and outside the country. Let us create chat rooms and online forums and then let us try to take it a step closer by bringing some of those individuals to the same table. Identify common grounds to start from and take it forward from there. I have tremendous faith in our men and women abroad and I know they want to help their country, they just don't know how. Let us use this untapped resource to promote Yemen's development. If you're interested in helping this country, this is a starting place.