Yemenis must always remain loyal to their country [Archives:2004/725/Opinion]

April 1 2004

Walid Hussain Ahmed Al-Bar
[email protected]

I am a Yemeni national born and raised in Ethiopia. Yemen is my country and so is Ethiopia, where I was born and love equally the same.
The reason I want to get this crystal clear, is to show my utter disgust at the derogatory remarks made by Mr. Ali Aljubani who submitted his views on Friday, March 19, 2004 at 08:32:20 (CST), on Yemenis born and raised in the diaspora be it in East Africa , Asia or Europe. Yemenis are Yemenis whether they are born in Yemen or abroad. Furthermore we are all Muslims, or have you forgotten that.
This was my first time to visit the Yemen Times on the Web and the reason was to place an advertisement for a friend of my mine from Canada who was interested in well-drilling in Yemen. I browsed though the list of Yemenis abroad and the first thing that attracted my attention was this racist view of an individual who claims to be a Yemeni,
Let me state something for the record even though I was born and raised away from Yemen. I am an agricultural engineer by profession and had spent over 25 years between Saudi Arabia and South East Asia.
During my stay in Saudi Arabia I introduced tropical plants to Saudi Arabia and conducted research on its adaptability. I introduced a wide range of tropical plants from fruit bearing trees, to shrubs to ground covers and finally in introduced varieties of orchids such as Cattleya , Vanda and Dendrobium, which are mainly epiphyte. It was a success and the second step was to produce it commercially and that was a success too. The clients here were both Saudi Princes, Prince Fahad bin Abdullah bin Abdulrhman, Deputy Head of the Saudi Navy, in his farm in Al Kharj and Prince Khaled bin Sultan, the son of the Saudi Defense Minister, in his farm in Tebrak outside Riyadh.
I wanted to apply what I had acquired in Saudi Arabia in my country, Yemen. I conducted my research on an ideal location to introduce orchids since they are the most expensive and least difficult to maintain. I found the ideal place for the production of the orchids was Socotra. I made a trip to Yemen in the middle of 1999 to get more information on Socotra. I made a trip to Mukallah and at a small fishing port just outside the city limit, I met a fisherman from Socotra who came all the way from HADIBO, the capital of Socotra. His catch was mainly sharks. I was able to glean some more information. What surprised me was that the he said the local MAHARAS has such plants as custard apples, guavas, mangoes and bananas, planted in their courtyards. The island was supposed to have only endemic plants such as the dragon tree.
I left Yemen and returned to South East Asia and embarked on purchasing over three thousand seedlings of Cattleyas , Vandas and Dendrobiums. The medium for those orchids is ONLY charcoal and bricks. In addition I bought over 100 dwarf coconut trees along with a variety of bamboo that could act as a wind break during the windy season, in addition to a variety of fruit bearing trees. I bought a quantity of fertilizer, pesticide and fungicide to last for six months. My only goal was to provide the locals with the know-how to make an additional income and I provided the plants and was doing it for free. The orchids can be grown in the courtyards of the locals since the orchid does not grow higher than 60 cm. The orchid produces at least four suckers annually which increase the inventory of orchids. The long-term goal is for flowers to be exported to Dubai or to sell them locally in Yemen.
I planned to allocate sufficient time so that the locals would get to know how to maintain these orchids in addition to the other plants. Before the end of 1999 I brought my plants supported by a phytosanitary certificate which cleared all the plants from any disease by Emirates to Sanaa. I got my plants cleared and preceded to Mukkalah. I waited for a few days before I could get a ride to Socotra. In the meantime I was maintaining my plants by watering them and keeping them in a shaded area.
It took us three days to get to Socotra and we docked at SOGALIYA port and from there had my plants transported by truck to HADIBO.
I finally made the trip to Socotra and it took us three days and we arrived at Sogaliya port and from there took a land rover to travel to Hadibo and arrived in the evening. There was only one guest house, where I spent my night. The next morning I had a visit from the local governor who was not a local and he had all my plants confiscated and later the local police came and confiscated my passport. All my plants were stored at the police station with all the fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides, I asked for the reasons why. The first reply was that I was introducing plants that could affect the indigenous dragon trees. My response was you have all those plants such as the custard apples, guavas and mangoes already planted by the locals. Why are those plants not considered as dangerous? I did not bring my plants to sell them to the locals but to help them make additional income and that I would have spent many months to teach them how to do it.
You all know how the saying goes, little knowledge is dangerous. This Governor looked at the fertilizers I had brought and considered it be drugs. My God, how ignorant could he be. The fertilizers were sent to Sanna for analysis and a few weeks later came the answer that it was fertilizer and that all the plants must be destroyed. Imagine during this period I would go daily to the station to water the plants and I found that miraculously, none of the plants had died. It was a painful experience to watch all my plants being torched. The local Maharas were disappointed and were grateful for what I did. Nevertheless I collected my passport and left very disappointed, not for the amount of money I lost in the process but by the way I was treated.
I returned to South East and I am living in Laos. Here I have land that I am developing into a resort. I will be willing to turn part of this resort to promote the life style in Yemen in the form of its architecture, costumes and Yemeni products here in Laos. If there are Yemenis from the home land or Yemenis from Africa, Asia, Europe, interested to participate, they are most welcome
In addition, Laos has incense wood (OUD in Arabic). Lao incense wood is considered the best for both OUD and DIHIN (liquid) form and is cheap.