By Fakhri al-Arashi
I was a guest at a qat chew last Friday with a great group gathered together. We were a mixed bunch, educated, from around the country. While the TV remote searched for a pleasing channel, a friend received an SMS informing him that Kuwaiti national, Dr. Tareq Mohammed Al-Suwaidan – an entrepreneur, author, speaker and leader of the Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood, was giving a lecture in Yemen that was being featured on Al-Jazeera.
This intrigued all that were gathered in that living room, and we voted for the Al-Jazeera channel. Dr. Al-Suwaidan spent more than an hour and a half discussing the strategies of successful countries. Despite the length of his lecture, we each hung on to every word. The key part of his presentation was addressed to Yemen’s revolutionaries and citizens. He advised them to focus on building the country and removing all power the former ruling family is holding onto. He then warned them about a backlash to the revolution, what might happen when people resist but don’t get change.
Current leaders and ministers will not bring change to the ground, he told them, and he rejected the idea that those who demonstrated should join the government, like what is happening today. The revolution was not accomplished and people would be better off joining the opposition, it’s their strongest hand.
He called for transparency and honesty, telling those who resisted that they have no right to expect a reward for their dedication; they must remain independent and alert. He talked concretely about what these theories would mean for Yemen by telling us to think of the country’s needs now and 20 years from now. He said education was the key component for development and with the current curriculum, Yemen and other Arab countries would not progress.
He illustrated many points for both the people and those in power. For our qat-chewing group, we agreed on two things: first, that Al-Suwaidan was giving practical solutions to Yemen’s current problems both directly and indirectly and would be very much admired if what he were saying were to be implemented. Secondly, the group agreed he was marketing himself, trying to secure a consultancy contract with the Yemeni government to propose government strategies to move the country forward. And why not? If he can turn his theories into practice, he will be Yemen’s Mahateer Muahammed, the beloved Maylaysian legend who pushed the development of that country.