Yemen national held for selling Qat leaves in Hyderabad

National Yemen

Qat buyers surrounded the Qat seller in a public Market.

 By NY Staff

Task Force sleuths on Wednesday arrested an MBA student from Yemen for selling Khat leaves, a banned narcotic substance, and seized 81 bundles of the contraband from his possession.

Acting on a tip-off, police raided a house at Syed Aliguda in Asif Nagar and apprehended Emad Saif Mohammed, a Yemeni who had been procuring Khat leaves from Ethiopia via Mumbai through one Javed and selling it to foreigners in Hyderabad.

Qat is often smuggled to Kenyan communities in the West, especially in Britain, where it is sold in well-known areas of London. The Yemenis spend nearly $4 billion per year on Qat, equivalent to 778 billion Yemeni Riyals. This sum includes the cigarettes, water, soft drinks and all the other requirements of Qat sessions since, as the study notes, around seven million Yemenis chew Qat and smoke cigarettes while doing so.

Qat is a plant that grows in Yemen and Ethiopia and is widely believed to have originated in the latter and migrated to the former during the 15th century. It is also grown in the al-Fifa mountains. Its scientific name is catha edulis, from the Celastraceae family.

It grows in the form of shrubs between two and five meters in height. Its color is greenish brown with a slight degree of red, and its leaves are oval and pointed. The leaves are plucked and chewed while the plant is still young.

The origins of this plant are unknown. There have, however, been a number of studies that suggest it came originally from Ethiopia. The English Orientalist Richard Francis Burton wrote that it came to Yemen in the 15th century.

A number of Islamic religious scholars have forbidden Qat use. These include scholars from Al-Azhar, Saudi Arabia and above all, Sheikh Abd al-Aziz bin Baz. Other scholars from the Shafi’i and Zaidi schools of jurisprudence have permitted its use, while stipulating that Islamic law nevertheless discourages it.

Qat is generally “chewed,” as Yemenis put it, in sessions where the chewers attempt to achieve a sensation or gather at public or private sessions too.

According to the World Bank, the Qat sector comprises six percent of Yemen’s’ GDP and consumes around 14% of the country’s manual-labor force. It consumes 30% of the country’s irrigation water allocated to agriculture.

On January 2013, The Eradat Watan Bila Qat (Will of a Nation Without Qat) Foundation, in cooperation with the Sustainable Environment Foundation, organized a media campaign for a number of local and international correspondents to witness the uprooting and replacement of Qat trees with coffee tress in the villages of Alswod and Germa, both located in the Haraz area of Monakha.