Professor Dr. Horst Kopp to YT: “Yemen has historical and tourist sites comparable to Arab and Worldwide sites.” [Archives:2001/15/Interview]
Professor Dr. Horst Kopp is the Head spokesperson of FORAREA Bavarian Research Network, Area Studies. He is a Professor of geography, mainly human geography. He first came to Yemen in 1972 on a research paper for himself. He soon became a keen visitor to Yemen. He traveled around many cities and areas throughout the country. He was chairman of the German-Yemeni Society in Germany in 1982 and published many books, articles on Yemen. Tawfeek al-Sharaabi of the Yemen Times met with him and filed the following interview:
Q: Could you brief us on your first visit to Yemen?
A: I first came to Yemen in 1972. It was another Yemen at the time. It was a divided country. I came from the western part of Germany and could only visit Yemen Arab Republic. I came with my university teacher to do a scientific work for myself. I decided to do it on the development of agriculture then. Yemen, at the time, was mainly a rural country with rural population who are leading a rural life, no cities, no towns. There was nothing more than the old city. I traveled to so many areas in the North. I stayed for half a year in the country together with my wife. Then, I went back home and my wife stayed here and worked for a roads’ construction company.
Q: When did you take over the presidency of the German-Yemeni Friendship Society and how did you maintain your visits to the country?
A: I took over the presidency of the German-Yemeni Friendship society in 1982 and remained in office until 1994. At the beginning of the 1980s, I was already a professor in a university in southern Germany. I came to Yemen again with a group of German scientists from different disciplines. We did a very large scientific project together with Sana’a University on various development aspects within the country. Later on, I paid several visits to Yemen as a tourist leader. In 1992, I came to Yemen with our president as a special guest in his delegation. I was the expert on Yemen. It was an impressive journey. Then, I did some work with Yemeni students who did their Ph.D. studies in Germany. I also worked together with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) which organized in October 1999 some lectures in Sana’a and Aden universities.
I was also a special guest in the 30th reinstallation of diplomatic relations between Yemen and Germany. For the first time, I could travel around in the South in the beginning of 1990s.
Q: How do you find Yemen?
A: Yemen has a great potential in tourism if it is utilized properly. Yemen has historical and tourist sites comparable to Arab and worldwide sites. The landscape, architecture, especially the people who are living in the old traditions with their tremendous hospitality and openness towards foreigners all throughout the country are very impressive.
Q: What are the activities the German-Yemeni Friendship Society held?
A: At the beginning, it was a charitable society founded in 1970 with the objective to help the poor Yemeni people. During my taking over period, economic development projects and aids were flowing into Yemen from governments. Hence, we focused on activities, more or less, in Germany to make public relations for Yemen as there were a lot of misunderstanding opinions about Yemen and Yemenis. We held exhibitions, lectures and published a magazine twice a year to report on different aspects of Yemen.
Now the main aim of the society is once again shifted, more or less, to the health sector. There are a lot of good relations between Yemeni and German doctors. The Yemeni-Germany Hospital is an outcome.
The society helped to establish the Yemeni-German Friendship Society in Yemen after the unification in 1990. Now we have also the German House in Sana’a. There are many activities which are held in collaboration with the two societies.
Q: What about your publications?
A: I have written two books and some articles. One of the books was about agriculture. The other was about the development of Sana’a city during 19th century -1980, especially the development of the old city. It is based on a scientific study from the geographic point of view. It was published in German and by the French institute here in Sana’a in French. Other articles were about the development of research in Yemen in general, tourism development, water and oil resources and their prospects, especially the problem of water which is my main focus now. I sometimes lecture in the German House. I am interested in water consumption in irrigation in rural areas. I think there should be more awareness against the shortage of water.
Q: Would you like to add any thing?
A: I wish the Yemeni people all the very best. I believe that Yemenis are very keen on education, and they are interested in more knowledge and activity, so I wish they will realize their ambitions.