Yemen Welcomes British [Archives:1997/40/Business & Economy]

October 6 1997

Consultants’ Delegation
A British trade mission has been visiting Yemen for seven days (28 September to 5 October) to look into a whole new range of business possibilities and investment opportunities opening up in Yemen. Led by the Duke of Gloucester, the mission consisted of several business consultants and representatives of various UK companies. The two main participants in this mission are the Middle Association (MEA) and the British Consultants Bureau (BCB). In addition to Sana’a, the delegation visited Taiz, Aden, and Seioun in Hadhramaut. In Aden, the Duke of Gloucester had quite a busy schedule, which included a visit to the Tawahi Church and the British servicemen cemetaries in Mualla and Little Aden. He also opened the new British Council branch in Aden.

The Duke of Gloucester, the first cousin of Queen Elizabeth, became the President of the BCB in 1978. On this trade mission, he said: “From the consultants’ point of view this is a very interesting time to visit Yemen. It is obvious that the economy is going to expand, which raises the need for better infrastructure. This is exactly the kind of projects that the BCB members are interested in. Yemen is indeed a country which is going to take its rightful place in the next century. “Regarding privatization, this is an expertise that we developed over the two decades. We have been able to provide our expertise to help people privatize, particularly in the former communist countries. “Several of the mission members said they were very pleased to find an agent here. A consultant now does not come as the great foreigner who has all the answers, but strikes up a partnership with the local counterpart. “Many of us are interested in reviving the port of Aden which is going to be a every important port in the future. It can become similar to the Singapore port which, I think, is the busiest port in the world. Both are natural harbors.”
Mr. Colin Adams, a retired RAF officer, is the executive director of BCB which has some 300 member. He said: “Our visit here has at lot of significance, not just for British consultants, but also for the British people. This is the 1st time a member of the Royal family has come here officially since 1952 when the Queen visited Aden. We are delighted from the British people’s point of view that we are increasing the contact between the British and the Yemeni people. “Our people have tremendous experience. Some of the firms have been trading for over 160 years. The majority of them have done major projects in many parts of the world.
“The World Bank people are full of admiration for the way your inflation has been pushed down from very high levels to something that a country in Europe would be proud to have. It is something which should be a source of great pride to you. The whole situation is beginning to be one where one can see major developments coming along in this country. “You as a people have got a tremendous potential to take a place in the world. To do that, you need good infrastructure. I think it is a time of great re-awakening here in Yemen, and in which our consultants feel they can play a big part.” “You are starting to get the right conditions for looking at some form of gradual privatization. You have to have something available so that a private company would find it a good investment where it can build up a good fund, as well as giving a service. “We had to put money into British Rail, for example, before it was privatized. It was costing us something like 50 million pounds a week in subsidy. Now when these companies are private, they are paying the government 60 million pounds in taxes every week.” “If you are going to create the right atmosphere for privatization you need to get communication between the public and private sectors, such that the public sector creates the right atmosphere for the private sector that wishes to become involved.” “You have to be a little bit cautious, because you cannot start talking about potential privatization without there being some government policy because you can create a feeling of fear in people concerning their jobs.”

By: Bin Sallam, and Ismail Al-Ghabiry.