By: Mohammed Al-Absi
As they did in 2006, when Ali Saleh’s presidential candidacy was supported with a billion YR, Yemeni traders have announced 97 billion YR worth of support for people displaced from Abyan, the full amount having been collected in one day.
In total, this donation can be considered the largest in Yemen’s history. The final number was was announced after prime minister Mohammed Basindowa held a meeting with traders. Speaking for myself, I would have praised the initiative if it had been announced from an independent meeting of Yemeni traders, as opposed to a meeting with the prime minister, who appeared to be the one who invited the traders to donate their money in the first place.
It is would be a fearsome exercise, to compare Yemeni traders and those from other countries: contrary to western traders, it would be rare to find a Yemeni trader who donated his money for charitable or scientific purposes. Thinking about it, what would cause Bill Gates to buy a $19 million dollar Da Vinci script before giving it as a gift to the French University where he studied before moving on to Hartford University?
Comparing him to Yemeni traders, it would be impossible to find a trader in Yemen who might buy a smuggled artifact from an Italian museum before returning it to Yemen’s national museum. Having said that, it kills me to see that the late Al-Baradooni’s house continues to be controlled by the judiciary system while no traders considered buying it with the aim of turning it into a national attraction.
Traders paid no attention to people’s feelings as major consumers of their goods when they announced their support for Ali Saleh at the beginning of the revolution. What makes it worse is what trader Hassan Al-Kabous announced after the first confrontation he had with the government. “We were the first to support the revolution against the regime,” he stated, forgetting his own statement of support which had been published in state-run newspapers.
Traders did not move a muscle when around eight newspapers were suspended at a time. However, when the government decided to apply sales taxes, traders immediately resorted to the same journalists who had already come to view them as cheaters. They set their tents in front of the customs department, forgetting their opinions about the protesters and their “way of blocking the public roads.”
Traders seriously need to reconsider their motives for donating 97 million YR to the displaced. They really must consider whether they donated for the sake of the displaced people – or for the sake of President Hadi, who “coincidently” hails from Abyan.