Sheikh Mabkhout Hathal to Yemen Times:”Marib tribes have conformed to the president’s conciliation, and he should fulfill his pledg” [Archives:2004/761/Community]

August 5 2004

Hassan Al-Zaidi
The Marib province is considered as the historical and economic depth of Yemen. It contains archeological remains, and agricultural wealth as well as oil. The local councils experience has come to give Marib's people a chance to participate in managing their own affairs.
We interviewed Sheikh Mabkhout Hathal, member of the Sirwah district's local council, responsible for services and projects, to learn the conditions of Marib province.

Q: Have local councils provided citizens with new services, and how do you evaluate their performance?
A: Local councils in Marib are suffering from deprivation. They do not have resources. They wait for centralized support. In such a situation, they can not achieve anything. I call on donors to help these councils, which could lessen the corruption rate in the public sectors such as education and health.

Q: Marib is privileged with certain sources that represent huge income suppliers?
A: Actually, Marib is the land of milk and honey – it is the state's artery, presently and the past. Yet, its people have not seen prosperity. Oil has brought them nothing but pollution and devastation.

Q: What about agriculture?
A: Marib is an agricultural land. It is called “ardh al-Janatin,” as you know, and has the Marib dam, which was built at the expense of Zaid bin Sultan (Zaid Al-Khair) to whom every Maribi is grateful.
Lands are fertile, but people do not have the necessary conditions for agriculture, and the government do not encourage farmers. Thus, the dam has turned out to be a problem as it is home to malaria-bearing mosquitoes.

Q: But there are channels running from the dam to irrigate farmers' lands?
A: The channels built in the past have been closed due to technical shortcomings. We have heard that there is aid from the UAE to build new channels, but it seems that officials will gulp down all the loans and donations, for there is no one to hold them to account.

Q: What about the general reconcilement that the president called for tribes – have they conformed to it?
A: Marib tribes have answered the call of the president. So far, nothing wrong has happened since tribes committed themselves to the conciliation terms, by tribal conventions more than by law. People of Marib now are awaiting the promise of the president, that is, that the provision of services and projects which the province lacks.
If development prevails and jobs are available, people would forget feuds, revenge and sabotage, which result from unemployment and the sense of deprivation.

Q: How do you evaluate the condition of tourism?
A: Tourism has subsided. But we urge all tourists of different nationalities to visit Marib, the Governorate of peace, security, civilaization, and history, especially to visit the ancient and first capital, Sirwah, the city of the garden, which is just 40 km to the west of the city of Marib.
We also thank the German expedition which excavates in Sirwah, and has unearthed the secrets and characteristics of this famous city.
Tourism does not form any income for local councils. We call on the government to involve locals in the tourist business.

Q: How do the people of Marib look at the frequent visit of the American ambassador especially with some newspapers warning of his socializing with tribes?
A: The visits of former US ambassador Mr. Edmund Hull and his meeting with people did not invite skepticism. On the contrary, his visits brought good services to Marib. He could understand the situation in Marib and perceived the deprivation of the Governorate.
He presented projects from the US which will positively affect development and to some extent alleviate the hardships of citizens in certain areas. Most important of these projects are the President Hospital in the city of Marib, which is modernly equipped at the expense of the US government, and Marib Museum on which work is continuing along with other projects.
Yet, Marib is still in need of many projects and for donors in the fields of education, health, dam building, agriculture, etc. The citizen needs tangible projects that can raise his standard of living.

Q: Are there development projects in Marib presented by the KSA?
A: So far, we neither know nor see anything in reality. Saudi Arabia has provided hundreds of projects in many fields to Yemen, but non of them have been given to Marib. Marib is waiting for more projects, and as the proverb says “It is mandatory to help your neighbor.”