Entering the qat shop, one would see around 4-5 Yemenis crowding the qat seller asking for qat, but this time it’s not in Sana’a, it’s in America!
Astonished I was when I saw bags of qat being distributed in the open in the heart of America. One bag of qat would sell for $30, while Yemeni customers would get the option to buy a full bag or half a bag. Soon after, all would go to the Deewans (qat sitting room) at start chewing. On average, Yemenis in America would chew in groups of 8 or more, and for at least 5 hours.
The next day, I headed to a group of senior Yemeni citizens residing in the United States, who say that they chew everyday. According to them, they chew more qat in America than in Yemen.
Most of the qat chewed in the United States is planted there, while a small portion of it comes from Kenya via London.
Sadly, only Yemenis chew in America while other minorities try to build the future of their younger generations. Parents chew in front of their children, therefore, becoming negative examples for their children in the country of hopes and dreams.
Late last year, I met with the Minister of Water and he clearly said that it is impossible to end qat plantation in Yemen. He himself is known to have massive qat farms in Ibb region, while he admits that he would not stop qat plantation in his farms until the government gives him other options. The minister is saying that he wants options from the government in order to stop qat plantation, as if he is not in the government and responsible for this tragic file. He forgets that it is his duty to save Yemen from water depletion.
If our leaders are the ones who lack care for the country, how can this country prosper? If they as officials blame one another, who do we blame?
It seems like the qat crises will continue to grow for Yemenis, whether they live in Yemen or abroad.
ABOUT Yemen Post Publisher & Chief Editor:
Hakim Almasmari is an American journalist and Middle East expert based in Sana'a, Yemen. His work has appeared for many of the worlds top media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Washington Post, AlJazeera, Fox News, The Guardian, The National, USA Today among numerous others. He has also worked with some of the world’s top organizations. Reporting out of Yemen for nearly eight years, he is the current editor in chief for the Yemen Post. He is a university lecturer in the field of international media and also studied business and law. Considered one of the top experts on Yemen, Almasmari has closely worked with international strategic centers and think tanks helping them better understand Yemen. He is a frequent guest on many international TV outlets discussing current local and international affairs. Almasmari's ancestors are from Yemen, and was born in Detroit, Michigan, USA. His mother tongue is English and is fluent in Arabic.