Yemeni consumer & market characteristics [Archives:2003/635/Business & Economy]

May 12 2003

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
A visitor to markets in Yemen would inevitably choose the kind of market he wishes, could be a general market or specialized folklore market, agricultural or industrial goods market, money exchange market or the black market. Wherever he goes there is a host of sellers specialized in various field of goods marketing.
A retail goods tradesman Ahmed al-Sabri at al-Hasaba market says there is no modern market in Yemen but rather there are multi-purpose markets selling various kinds of goods. If you go to old Sana'a you would find different kinds of markets. There is a market for heritage and historical antiques; another for folkloric costumes, a market specialized with silverwares and another for money exchange. One would get astonished due to the random assortment of markets in the capital and other Yemen I cities but he would find entertainment in shopping, especially regarding the choosing of products and goods. For there are food products, folklore costumes, and antiquities. Touring old Sana'a markets, a visitor would walk through narrow alleys and small shops but are full of goods. Tradesman al-Sabri adds that if one wants to enjoy his time he has to choose any market he wants to visit. In consumer goods markets one would spend shorter time but in markets selling antiquities one would have to spend longer time looking at traditional artifact and hand-made things.
A few people usually frequent the famous heritage markets such as the markets of old Sana'a, Taiz, Aden, Mukalla and Sa'da. There could be found hand-made professional products and handicraft, ornamented industries and hand-embroidered folklore clothes. Many tourists enjoy visiting these old markets full of tourist scenes and are keen to take pictures there out their feeling of he value of history and features of the old civilization.
Tradesman Abdullah Muqbil in al-Shaneeni Taiz market told us that in that market there are Yemeni spices and frankincense, potteries and silverwares, all of them are local materials and goods. Also there is a French coin called [Marie Teresa] which in the past was an official currency and now has become of an antique value which tourists like much to have.
Mr. adds that there are no wonders in this market when one sees the variety of professions displayed in it but that diversity indicates variety of handicraft inherited by successive generations. Muqbil sees that marketing in Yemen is still traditional lacking market research and commercial promotion. The consumer's purchasing power is weak and his monthly income is modest, not amounting to $100. But shoppers get the goods that suit their tastes and level of their salaries. Marketing in Yemen is related to local agricultural and industrial products along with some handicraft. Some foreign handicraft began to invade the Yemeni markets and affect the national products because of the former cheap prices.
Retail sale merchants in the capital markets confirm that foreign goods and products marketing into Yemen has good opportunities with the consumer, especially clothes, cloth, fashions, cosmetics, electronic equipment and perfumes. Sellers say the Yemeni market is big and local agricultural and industrial production is not enough to meet the consumer's needs and there are more chances for an increase inn importation. Many merchants have realized the presence of investment opportunities and that's why they converted their importation activities to investment in order to control the market and the consumer, though this has been at the expense of national industries and products.