Yemen Ambassador in Qatar notes that . . .Obstacles to Qatari investment in Yemen need to be eliminated [Archives:2003/694/Community]

December 15 2003

Yemen's embassies continue to play a critical role in enhancing Yemen's image and relations abroad. One of those embassies is the Embassy of Yemen in Qatar which has realized various diplomatic accomplishments. Yemen Times staff writer Yasser Al-Mayais recently had an opportunity to conduct the following interview with His Excellency, Yahya Hussain Al-Arashi, Ambassador of Yemen to Qatar.

Q: Would you give an idea about the Yemeni-Qatari relations, and fields of bilateral cooperation between the two countries?
A: As you know, Yemen holds Qatar close to its heart for the support it extended during the Yemeni unification process and other noble stands towards Yemen. Qatar has been hosting a large Yemeni community for a long time for which it offers many facilities adhering to the wise instructions of His Highness, Shaikh Hamad Bin Khalifah Al Thani, and Qatari officials. Yemeni – Qatari relations are based on mutual respect, and lately extended to the investment potentials in Yemen, and mutual cooperation in the field of development.
Qatar contributed U. S. $90 million during the Financiers' Conference, which convened in Paris, to finance the construction of roads, and completion of transportation networks. There are also several other bilateral cooperation areas of which, for example, is the Qatari construction of a conference hall in Sana'a as the Yemeni – Qatari relations are not solely based on assistance, but bilateral and candid equal interests between the two countries and their peoples.
This was clear during the recent visit of the Yemeni Prime Minister to Qatar when partnership and mutual cooperation were discussed, among which is a new partnership in the construction field was initiated in light of what Yemen enjoys in terms of related material. For example, Yemen's mountains have a wide variety of stones, both in shape and color, which Qatar can use in its construction projects. Yemeni marble, and other construction materials including gypsum and cement, which are located close to Yemeni coasts, especially in Hadhramout, will also enhance this partnership.
Indeed, a technical mission has already initiated evaluating the economic value of this project. Creating a company for construction materials, and container seaport in Hadhramout are two of the projects which will benefit both Yemen and Qatar. Investment and natural gas are two of the other cooperation areas. Qatar, which is ranked third in the world in natural gas production, is also one of the advanced countries in its export, and distribution. Yemen has realized notable advancements in this field that put it close to the Qatari experience.

Q: Is there a committee for the Yemeni and Qatari businessmen?
A: A proposal was drafted to create such a committee which will coordinate the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of investment, commerce, export, and agriculture which includes fruits and vegetables. And, as you know, Yemen produces large quantities of fruits and vegetables for which Qatar is an ideal market. The prospective committee will also work finding potential investment projects in the two countries, and private capital will play a critical role not only in bilateral relations between Yemen and Qatar, but between Yemen and the Gulf Counties as well.
Yemen has a wide variety of investment potentials, however, let me be frank with you here, I think it is vital to resolve problems and difficulties which most investors who come to Yemen complain of. Dead administrative routines, involvement of dwelling influential personalities in some government agencies as well as in the private sector who, combined, intimidate investors and claim guardianship, or negotiate becoming partners in the investment projects without paying any money claiming to provide protection facilities.
These irresponsible forces constitute obstacles for investors and need to be eliminated as they put Yemen in embarrassing situations. Otherwise, investments will find more stable, clear, and secure markets elsewhere. Resolving difficulties relating to the Ministries of the Interior, and Justice are some of the other challenges that need immediate attention. Free Trade Zone issues in Aden need to be resolved as it is considered one of the investment potential areas, and I call upon the appropriate authorities to invite the Qatari businessmen to visit it so they can see firsthand what it can offer.
Q: What facilities does the Embassy offer Yemenis in Qatar, what sectors do they work in?
A: The Embassy offers a wide range of facilities to the Yemeni community most whose members work in health, law, aviation, oil, mosques, and other companies in Qatar as they are nowadays equipped with education and knowledge. Close coordination is in place the Embassy and the community leadership to attend to any issues or challenges that may face any of its members. The Embassy also provides facilities for and encourages the community members to invest in Yemen, especially in the Free Trade Zone as they are considered a vital economic force which can play an important role in Yemen economic growth.

Q: What were the impressions views of investors who visited Yemen relative to the amended investment law?
A: The investment law is one of the best laws written encouraging investors. Of more importance, however, are the mechanisms of its execution. Other investment laws are also providing for investors, both Yemenis and Qataris, who recently visited Yemen, and identified several potential projects, but complained of dead routines and ineffective ways of dealing with prevailing laws in many of the facilities they visited. I, hereby, convey these remarks through Yemen Times to those concerned for the benefit of our country in hopes to find solutions.

Q: Are there official statistics for the Yemeni immigrants in Qatar?
A: The purpose of statistics is nowadays very different from what it once was, either for military draft, taxes, or other fees. It is for the benefit of our future generations, and an initiative in this is scheduled to start in January, 2004 in cooperation with Yemeni community leadership. Forms have been designed for this purpose, and information will later be entered into a computer.

Q: Do you have any other remarks?
A: I would like to thank Yemen Times and compliment its success and involvement in our various issues as it reflects the wisdom of its founder, the late Dr. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf, in establishing an independent media approach serving all. This English newspaper was able to present to the world around us a successful example of introducing Yemen without any fabrications by breaking various perimeters, and still following the approach of its founder and leader, Dr. Al-Saqqaf.
We are in desperate need for this and similar media efforts, whether in Arabic or English, to help build Yemen, and present it in its true image without any fabrication. I wish Yemen Times and its staff continued success.