Spain to Engage Yemen More Actively [Archives:1999/06/Business & Economy]

February 8 1999

It is well known that Spain and Yemen enjoy a very special relationship, which strengthened throughout the years, and reached its peak after the memorandum of understanding signed in December 1997. Apart from being a very close friend, Spain is also a contributer to the economic and democratic reforms in Yemen. This can be seen from the softloans and financial contributions worth millions of dollars it gave to Yemen.
Hatem Bamehriz of the Yemen Times filed the following interview with H.E. Mr. Jose Antonio Sabadell, the First Secretary and the Deputy Head of Missions at the Embassy of Spain in Riyadh.
Q: Would you please introduce yourself?
A: My name is Jose Antonio Sabadell. I am the First Secretary and the Deputy Head of Missions at the Embassy of Spain in Riyadh.
Q: Is this your first visit to Yemen?
A: No, I have visited Yemen before. Yemen is a beautiful country, and I like to visit it as often as I can. I feel at home when I am in Yemen. In addition to this, Yemen and Spain have a very special relationship.
Q: What is the purpose of this visit?
A: We do have visits made on regular basis to Yemen, by different members of the embassy, and that includes the ambassador, and other people responsible of different fields of bilateral relations. On one side we have commercial relations. Our commercial consular comes to Yemen every few months, as do I.
Q: How are Yemeni-Spanish relations?
A: I have already met some people I wanted to see, and I have spoken to different people in the government, other embassies, as well as commercial organizations in order to gain an idea of how the country is doing, and what its prospects are? I will be meeting more people in the next few days. I think our relations are positive, and we try to maintain and enhance it. As I always say, not having an embassy here forces us to work more to keep the relations on a very good level, as they are now. Mr. Alwan Shaibani, our Honorary Consul is doing a very good and important job.
Q: What are the fields of cooperation between Spain and Yemen?
A: We have more than one field, and it’s a continuation of already excellent relations. On one hand from the commercial and economical point of view, I think there are an increasing number of Spanish companies that are taking an interest in Yemen. In this respect a soft loan of $30 million dollars has been approved, which will be designated to electricity, and $2 million dollars for feasability studies. From the point of view of tourism, there are an important number of Spanish tourists visiting Yemen every year. From a cultural point of view, we will try and make our offer of scholarships more available to Yemeni scholars, so they can benefit from it. There is also an invitation which has been extended by the minister of foreign affairs in Yemen to the minister of foreign affairs in Spain, which has been accepted, and we are trying to fix an appropriate date for this visit.
Q: How do Spanish tourists feel about Yemen?
A: Yemen has so much to offer, in almost every respect, such as landscape, culture, history, and the hospitality of Yemenis, and Spanish tourists appreciate that. I know many people, who had visited Yemen, and they all are extremely satisfied with their visit, and they are looking forward to coming back.
Q: Mr. Alwan Shaibani, would you like to add something?
The bilateral relationship between the two countries is not new. As a matter of fact Spain had provided a soft loan of $ 30 million to the Republican hospital in 1990. Unfortunately, the project did not materialize due to the Gulf war. In the last eight years Spain has provided a few shipments of medicine to the ministry of health, which were very much appreciated by the Yemeni government.