Aden, one of the largest port cities in Yemen, has recently banned weekday use of qat. Amid a profusion of mixed reactions to the edict, Haitham Alaini urges Aden officials to take their ban one step further, and to replace the crop entirely. In rationalization of his plea, the respected philanthropist points to the World Bank’s statements and suggestions on Yemen’s production of qat.
Qat is both a national crop of Yemen and an addictive pastime. Upon ingestion, the leaves give an effect similar to that of several concentrated cups of coffee. Deeply intertwined with Yemeni culture, the herb is commonly featured during wedding celebrations and given as a gift. By some estimates, the staple crop accounts for more than ten percent of the national GDP, and provides employment to fourteen percent of the country’s working population.
At the prohibition’s announcement, some citizens felt that the government was intruding into their daily lives, while others, including Haitham Alaini, embraced the idea of removing the leaf entirely from Yemeni culture. The forward thinking entrepreneur insists that if Yemen is to develop, a ban is not what his country needs, but a concerted effort to replace the crop. Geologic studies from the past ten years have consistently shown that qat shrinks underground water reservoirs, leading to cracks and fissures that can stretch for hundreds of yards. In an effort to sufficiently irrigate their land, farmers drill deeper for water, causing further damage to the earth.
Haitham Alaini maintains that, while it would take time to implement, Yemen should consider the World Bank’s recommendations to replace qat. The process will prove invaluable to stabilizing Yemen’s environment and increase the quantity of water available for the thirsty. The foundation, a proponent of developing countries, advocated assisting farmers in the development of alternative, high-value crops such as olives, almonds, and coffee. The Yemeni government could ease this transition by offering credits for farmers shifting to high-value crops, promoting the role of the Cooperative Agricultural Credit Bank, expanding non-farm livelihood activities, and establishing a fund to compensate farmers for ceasing qat production.
Haitham Alaini is a Yemeni entrepreneur and philanthropist. He received a degree in economics from George Washington University, and upon his return to Yemen, created his own construction business specializing in oil and gas infrastructure. Over the course of the last twenty years, the Yemeni patriot has gained invaluable experience, as well as attained a profound respect for the professionals of Yemen and its surrounding regions. An admirer of nonprofits like the Acacia Foundation who work tirelessly to improve the education and health of the Yemeni people, Alaini strives to highlight beneficial resources for his fellow citizens, exemplify how businesses can support Yemen, and to demonstrate his love for his country. To learn more about Haitham Alaini and the Future of Yemen, visit: http://www.haithamalaini.org
Haitham Alaini — Stresses Importance of Preservation for Building the Future: http://www.streetinsider.com/Press+Releases/Haitham+Alaini+–+Stresses+Importance+of+Preservation+for+Building+the+Future/11992883.html