Shawqi’s Ahmed Hayel Saeed to Yemen Times: “Taiz deserves much more, such as the united effort of all its lovers in all economical, social and cultural aspects.” [Archives:1999/35/Business & Economy]

August 30 1999

Shawqi Ahmed Hayel is one of the sons of Ahmed Hayel Saeed, the elder son of the famous businessman Hayel Saeed. He was born in Taiz in 1961 and was able to obtain Bachelor’s degree in Management. Currently, Shawqi is the Deputy General of Industry and Director in the Hayel Saeed Group. Another position of his is the Chairman of the Aghabira and A’arooq (Taiz) Society. He is also a Financial Official at the Yemeni Society of Industrialists.
It is also worth mentioning that besides being a successful businessman, Shawqi also was honored several times for the support of sports and youth. Among his honorary posts are the Honorary Chairman of the Football Union, the Honorary Chairman of Al-Saqr Cultural and Sport Club, and the Honorary Chairman of the Talia’ah Club in Taiz.
Imad Al-Saqqaf, Yemen Times Bureau Chief in Taiz interviewed Mr. Shawqi to know how their work after the death of the late Hayel Saeed is going on, and to also ask of future projects ahead.
Q: We start with Taiz, this dreaming and wonderful city, whose name was associated with the late Hayel Saeed, God rest his soul in heaven, and the Hayel Saeed Group. If it were not because of the activities of this pioneering group; Taiz would have been a dead city, while Taiz has all the necessary conditions to be a prosperous cultural center and tourist destination. Despite this, Taiz is miserable and lacks the minimum services and investments in tourism. Do you intend to make an investment in the tourist sector in Taiz?
A: I would like in the beginning to thank the Yemen Times for this interview. As for your question, you know that investment in tourism is very important and has a big role in helping the economy of any country to prosper. Tourism is sometimes called, ” the smokeless industry”. So, it is only natural for us to think in entering this sector with a wide range of activities, a sample of which is the tourist project being constructed currently. In the past our group may have concentrated on industrial affairs, but now we are thinking in embarking into a wide range of investments and projects in tourism, because our Group is convinced in providing a service that reflect our society’s history, traditions and civilization. In general, we are not completely absent in this respect, but our group’s investments in the tourist sector wasn’t at the same level of our current industrial investments.
This is a general overview of our group’s tourist sector activities. As for Taiz, it is spontaneous to think in establishing a tourist project in this beautiful and wonderful city. The first such activity for us may be current “Al-Saeed Hotel” which is being concluded in Taiz.
Q: Let us move to trade and local manufacturing industries. These have started to suffer lately because the local markets are being dumped with foreign products and due also to smuggling. How do you consider the dangers of smuggling to local industries? It’s reasons? Who stands behind it? What is your opinion in the this policy of opening the local market to whoever wants to indulge in, and to all foreign made products?
A: Smuggling is one of the most serious issues facing any economy. It is a phenomenon that needs to be curbed and the means to fight it, looked into. The damages of smuggling equally strike the country, local consumers and investors. I think that opening the Yemeni markets in such a way to everybody and dumping the market with foreign imports (or locally made products) inflicts many dangers in the long run on the national economy. Every nation should execute harsh punishments on smugglers that may include confiscation and prison. The Yemeni government has to be fully aware of the dangers of smuggling and to help the investors and to take into consideration the situation that the country’s economy is currently in. Any economy has to advance from its own circumstances and understandings. The government has to stop this destructive march of smuggling in order to maintain a balance in the Yemeni economy which is in great need of support at the first place.
Q: It is said that the production and sales of your group’s factories have dwindled and a number of laborers were discharged from your factories. Is this right?
A: I see that this the natural and unavoidable result of the above mentioned damages resulting from smuggling and dumping the Yemeni markets with imports which compete with local products( though it may be lower in quality). Such policies result in lower sales; but our companies are in good shape and we are capable to continue serving our homeland and fulfilling its objectives.
As to the situation of the labor force in our factories and companies, is it not true that we are discharging laborers. We have tried every possibility to maintain the opportunities for the Yemeni labor force in general, and to the disguised unemployment in our Group.
Q: Your continuous support to Youth and Sport activities in Taiz is a known fact. Are you trying to establish an example to other businessmen in respect to supporting sport clubs? And how do you estimate the situation of sports in Yemen generally and in Taiz especially? What hurdles are facing sports? And how can they be overcome?
A: As for whether we are trying to put an example for businessmen to support sport clubs and unions we would appreciate a call for everybody capable of doing so to do that and support sport activities in Taiz and in Yemen in general. As for sports’ situation in Taiz; it is not a bad situation; especially with everybody concerned with sports trying to make some achievement or to develop or improve the sports’ situation in Taiz. Every possible effort is being made, and we hope that all material and moral hurdles in the way of sports shall be erased so that Yemeni sportsmen and women shall be able to represent Taiz, in Yemeni and Arab competitions. If people join their hands and efforts the said hurdles shall be transformed into real achievements.
Q: The initiative made by the Hayel Saeed Group in establishing the annual Awards in the name of the late Mr. Hayel Saeed “may God have mercy on him”, and in establishing the Al-Saeed Establishment is the first such move in Yemen. But, it is noticed that Al-Saeed Establishments’ activities are seasonal, and that it lacks a program which throughout the year similar to that of Al-Afif’s. Why are the activities of Al-Saeed Establishment seasonal and not all year?
A: This question was raised several times before. We appreciate such interests in culture loving and encouraging individuals; but a 1000 mile journey starts with one pace, and Al-Saeed Establishment started with more than one pace. As you have just mentioned the Award of the late Hayel Saeed for Arts and Sciences is considered one of the most prominent cultural manifestations inside Yemen. The same is right for Al-Saeed Library. Every intellectual in Yemen awaits like us the conclusion of the Buildings of the Al-Saeed Library and Al-Saeed Establishment. These buildings shall acquire a program that covers the whole year. While works are being finalized in this regard; the officials at the establishment shall by than have earned more energy and arranged their papers for the beginnings of a new born cultural activity whose features are starting to come to light.
Q: Back to Taiz, which dreams of a better future and of her dream knight who shall lift her out of misery and wretchedness. You have given much of what Taiz deserves; and it deserves more love and generosity. What are your future plans for Taiz?
A: There is much talk of future plans but less of the activity. This city deserves much more, such as the united effort of all Taiz lovers in all economical, social and cultural aspects. This affair isn’t in the hands of any individual alone. Everyone should join hands. Praise goes to one who gives without awaiting anything in return. Everyone who does his best to provide happiness to Taiz and it’s dwellers shall be its dreamed and future knight.
Q: The death of the late Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Saqqaf was a catastrophe to all quarters. How did you receive the news? Do you have any special recollections or memories with him?
A: Yes, his death was a disaster! We lost his keen economical and cultural interests; especially his important role in establishing and publishing the Yemen Times through which he brought out clearly the role of the private sector in trade and industry, not to mention his prominent role as a Professor in Economics and his unrivaled courage.
I remember that he, may God rest his soul in peace, called me just the day before his painful death. The subject was the Democracy Forum which was prepared for its convenience in Sana’a and that Yemen Times shall be published daily on this occasion. His death was a real shock to me. I hope to God that his soul is in the highest of paradise and send his family and lovers of patience my condolences. But I believe that Yemen Times will continue to prosper over the years.