Serious dialogue needed to end Yemen’s crises [Archives:2008/1191/Opinion]

September 18 2008

The long dialogue between the ruling and opposition parties on the elections and proposed Election Law amendments has reached its usual result. However its topic still pervades the media community, highlighted by various independent, party-affiliated and official newspapers. The dialogue is being dealt with as if there were no other issues in this nation to attract the attention of all those concerned.

We conclude that the authority is the source of conflict between the ruling and opposition parties as the case has appeared over the past days, since this authority has its own irresponsible means to achieve comfortable majority in Parliament and dominate the affairs of the nation.

What the situation will look like in days to come, no one can tell. One can't judge from what one sees, because programs, promises and intents are not brought to fruition and one never sees them translated on the ground, because of scattered efforts that do not concentrate on top priorities.

Clearly, the policies followed in Yemen produce nothing more than extreme poverty and destitution amid the absence of any serious effort to tackle them. Solutions to pressing problems in the country don't come from either the authority or the opposition, which I don't think have demonstrated any distinctive practical ability to put an end to such issues.

We don't feel that such dialogues are serious enough to tackle pressing problems in the nation such as illiteracy, severe poverty as a result of rapid population growth, weak human structure and lack of qualifications to play a key role in fostering development.

If exploited in an ideal manner, investment opportunities may help reduce unemployment and curb the proliferation of dangerous diseases, most notably cancer, malaria and heart, blood and liver diseases. Statistics reveal that the number of Yemeni patients suffering from such diseases is higher than figures in other countries of the region.

Even worse, electricity services do not meet the country's growing demand and are therefore responsible for a slow development process. How is it possible for us to talk about investment opportunities and attract investors to establish projects in a state that has failed to meet its people's minimum demand for power?

Water resources are threatened by depletion, particularly in Sana'a, Aden and Taiz. If the responsible authorities don't exert exceptional and extensive efforts to treat such a worsening problem, the situation may lead to a civil war over water resources. The gross agricultural production in several parts of the nation has declined as a result of scarce water resources and their ineffective exploitation.

The educational process in Yemen does not match the needs of development, and graduates from Yemen's various universities lack the qualifications needed by the labor market. These are some of the main reasons why investment opportunities in Yemen are poor and unemployment continues on the rise.

Yemen's most urgent issues continue worsening while we concentrate our efforts on the Supreme Commission for Election and Referendum (SCER). It is impossible for anyone to deny that the government's mismanagement and poor performance result in rampant corruption which eliminates investment opportunities.

Existing laws and administrative systems have proven to be unable to meet development needs and economic necessities, or take into consideration the strong relationship between the local and international economies. Legislations in Yemen don't comply with the demands of our time, yet the government plans to attract foreign investors to Yemen with the intention of creating prosperity and exterminating poverty and backwardness.

The facilitation of capital and investment movement, the creation of good investment climates and the elimination of obstacles hindering development are what we need.

One may question why Yemeni businessmen in and outside Yemen don't play a prominent role in addressing these issues, particularly in the areas of development. They should also cooperate with the authority, opposition parties and civil society organizations to address any pressing matters on the ground.

As far as I am concerned, the government is recommended to give top priority to tackling all the issues highlighted in my article, mainly as they are related to our living conditions and basic necessities. When the government and all the organizations involved suggest workable solutions to these issues, it will be easy for them to generate good material and humanitarian development, enhance stability and put an end to destructive wars.

Farook Al-Hakimi is a former Deputy Minister of Culture and Tourism.

He also served as General Investment Manager for Abyan and Aden.