World Bank expresses full support for Yemen in London Donors’ Conference [Archives:2006/996/Front Page]

November 6 2006

Hamdan Dammag
SANA'A, Nov. 5 ) Daniela Gressani, the World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Region, met President Ali Abduallah Saleh on Sunday. In the meeting, World Bank's role in supporting Yemen in the upcoming donors' conference in London next month was discussed. Saleh expressed his hope the World Bank will participate in making the London conference successful.

Speaking about her meeting with the President, Gressani described the meeting as productive. “I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet him. I think he was very much focused on economics and on the importance of taking Yemen to the next level in terms of the welfare of its population in terms of job opportunities for young people,” Gressani told the Yemen Times. She also added “He is also looking forward to the London meeting as a means of cementing a stronger relationship between Yemen, Western donors and the GCC.”

Visiting Aden tomorrow, Gressani said there were two main objectives for her visit to Yemen, first to learn about Yemen and second to “make sure that we [World bank and Yemen] are fully prepared for the important London meeting during Nov. 15 and 16, where the donor community, including both Western donors and GCC donors, come together to discuss with Yemen needs as well as achievements.”

Gressani held several meetings with Yemeni officials Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, she met Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Abdul-Kareem Al-Arhabi, as well as other ministry officials. Meeting topics included aspects of mutual cooperation and the means to boost outstanding relations between Yemen and the World Bank, as well as World Bank support for Yemen's reform agenda for the coming period.

Al-Arhabi underlined the importance of World Bank participation in the upcoming consultative group meeting for Yemen's development partners, which will be held in London the middle of this month. Gressani praised the London meeting's final arrangements and affirmed World Bank support for Gulf-Yemeni integration plans.

Visiting Yemen for the first time since being appointed vice president last month, Gressani, who arrived in Sana'a Friday for an official five-day visit, stated to the Yemen Times, “We have been working very closely with the government [of Yemen] to prepare for this conference both in terms of documenting Yemen achievements that during the past two months as well as the commitments, the forms that are needed in order for Yemen to progress further. The second thing is there are a number of important measures to be taken to be prepared to engage with the donors. I think one of the most important one has been the preparation of the public investment plan, which the [World] Bank has been providing its input to the government regarding this plan.”

The World Bank recently approved a new Country Assistance Strategy for Yemen, which projects approximately $400 million in International Development Association (IDA) credits involving 19 projects for the 2006-2009 period. The strategy is in support of Yemen's third Five-Year Plan for Development and Poverty.

A full interview with Gressani will be published in the next issue.