The prince and the pauper [Archives:2005/882/Viewpoint]

October 3 2005

When I was younger my father told me about once he was Amman. One day while stopping at the traffic light he glanced to his right and saw Late king Hussein driving his own car and obediently waiting for the green light, just as any other citizen. As a child I used to stare at any neighboring posh car that had halted for the traffic light, hoping I would be able to see the president of my country, but that was just wishful thinking. With time I have realized that it is far fetched that Mr. President would drive in the streets of Sana'a like any other citizen.

Whenever there is an event that requires his presence, all the main roads are evacuated, the streets are cleaned and even the parked cars are removed from the street sides. My appointments, schedules and routine of the day will most likely be messed up because of the need to divert my route so many times just because some high official might be crossing this road at some point during the day.

Fortunately for many Yemenis, time does not have much value, and they do not really mind waiting for hours, or the diversions. For many others it is a nuisance and gives a bad impression of the ruling power.

This means that the leaders will never come to know what it is like to drive through the ragged polluted bumpy roads of Sana'a at the rush hour. They will not know what it feels like when you are stuck in a traffic jam because some army labelled car decided to drive the opposite way, defying all principles of traffic, humanity and sometimes even gravity.

Another alarming point is that the people would never relate to their leaders. They live in a different life, embraced with all attention and comfort. Should they even bother that the municipality is digging the road outside our home for the fifth time? Or should it matter to them that the main street has suddenly become a dead end because some construction is taking place?

How can we celebrate the revolution and our national days when the least of our basic needs are not covered? The gap between the authorities and the people is getting wider day-by-day.

I do not appreciate the fact that the police confiscate my parked car when a governmental event is about to take place and the officials would like the road to be empty. I do not appreciate that the roads are being cleaned and repainted for the reason that some guest should be given a better impression than the shabby street I and all other people cross everyday.

Neither do I appreciate the fact that high officials are taking comfort in their high towers while I am tired of having to struggle everyday just to get to my work because of ill-mannered drivers and the horrible traffic system.

However, I do appreciate that I at least have the chance to speak my mind about this and try to convey a message, hoping that it would reach some ears. Mr. President, if you care you will show it, it is more than words we are talking about here.