OP-ED

What is the Cost of the Shift from Sana’a to Aden?

Fakhri al-Arashi

Throughout history, Sana’a was known as a city of art, literature, and orchards. Over the past two decades, this fact about Sana’a has been relegated to narrative stories, tales, and poetry. The situation of Sana’a today is worse than the days following the civil war in 1994 when the former regime, headed by the ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh, shifted all the political powers and decision making to Sana’a, keeping the rest of the governorates subordinated to the capital.

Since then, Sana’a has not seen the vision of redistributing wealth and opportunities between the cities and governorates of Yemen and it has focused more on building the idea of centralism for the propose of protecting the unity of Yemen. Unfortunately, this theory has contributed to widening the gap between people living in Sana’a and the rest of the community, including officials who were appointed in high-ranking political positions like governors. They used to live and work from Sana’a, leaving their governorates in God’s hands to improve them, despite having great infrastructure and resources.

Now there are major concerns for the people living and doing business in Sana’a since the safe escape of President Hadi from house arrest. The president’s exit from Sana’a to Aden will negatively affect in all sides of daily life for now and in the future.

The president’s announcement of Aden as the temporary capital and the return of Arab and Western Embassies, following soon by international NGOs and government offices, will double the suffering of the people living in Sana’a, mainly those who set themselves up for long stays in Sana’a.

The negative results are yet to come .50 to 60% of people living in Sana’a will lose their work as a result of this political shift. The shift is not a bad move but the circumstances made the sudden move a disaster for all.

Many commercial firms will go bankrupt and the huge investment in the hotelier industry, restaurants, schools, hospital, universities, real state and many more will collapse as soon as people decide to move from the five decades years old capital to the new capital of Aden, which was well recognized capital before the unity of Yemen.

If there is no serious and quick solution taken now, I assume that huge buildings and fancy apartments will turn into a haven for ghosts. Is there anyone thinking positively and planning for equal opportunities in both north and south? Will those who forced the president to escape regret their actions? In the coming days and weeks we should have a much more clear indication of the true costs of moving the capital.