Interviewed / Yasser Hassan
The manager of the High Council of Yemeni Communities, Mehdi Hatim Al-Nihari, recently shared his thoughts on how the experience, skills, and financial capital of Yemeni expatriates can best be used to benefit the Yemeni state.
Al-Nihari said that the external investment environment has contributed more to the success of capital outside than inside the country.
He further mentioned that transfers of Yemeni expatriates have affected the stability of the country’s economy during Yemen’s recent economic crisis. He calls on all political forces in Yemen to put national interest over personal priorities.
How do the Yemeni expatriates view the situation in Yemen after the youth revolution?
Yemenis outside the country remain very optimistic after the youth revolution and through the beginning of the dialogue process between Yemen’s political rival groups. They also are more optimistic about President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi for his efforts to solve the problems in Yemen and make it one of the best countries in both the region and the world.
How do they feel about the National Dialogue Conference?
Although some disagree about the participation rate of expatriates in the National Dialogue, in general they support it. They are hopeful for a productive Dialogue process and a set of positive outcomes that help to solve Yemen’s numerous problems.
When was the High Council for Communities formed? What was the purpose behind its creation?
The Council was established in Sana’a last January with the participation of most Yemeni communities around the world. These communities voted to elect the presidency of the High Council of the Yemeni communities.
The aim of this establishment is to help expatriates solve problems in their immediate communities as well as facilitate their investments inside and outside Yemen. The Council also aims to empower Yemeni expatriates to engage in the building of industrial worksites and other investment projects within Yemen.
What is the role of the Yemeni Government and the Ministry of Expatriates in establishing the Council?
The Ministry of Expatriates had a large role in establishing the Council. Minister Mujahid Algahaly was careful to format the council in the manner used because it represents a common idea between expatriates and the ministry; in part, that there was no interest in it throughout the period of the previous regime.
What is the method of communication between you and various expatriate communities around the world?
We have specific channels of communication with different communities around the world. And we’ll soon work to open an office for the Council in the Ministry of Expatriates in Yemen. This office will include a database of all Yemeni expatriates outside the country. Besides, holding the Fourth General Conference of Yemeni Expatriates in Sana’a will be an excellent opportunity to establish new connections and to structure matters of the Council.
How do Yemeni expatriates support the country’s economy?
Yemeni expatriates contribute significantly to the economy of their country through support of currency stability and involvement in infrastructure projects. During the economic crisis, remittances from expatriates were one of the strongest factors behind continued economic stability. If we suppose each expatriate cares for ten members inside their country, money provided for these 10 persons from workers over create a huge contribution from expatriates.
What does Yemen offer to encourage investment by expatriates?
Yemen has strong investment rules. However, the administrative and financial corruption in some ministries hampers those investments and leads Yemeni investors to place their money in projects outside the country, where there are more facilities to encourage and support investment.
How many Yemeni expatriates currently live abroad?
The Yemeni expatriate community is one of the largest in the world, with six million Yemenis living around the world. Saudi Arabia is one of the largest host countries for Yemeni expatriates. Significant Yemeni expat communities also exist in the US, Britain, and many other countries.
How many Yemeni expatriates are there in Saudi Arabia?
They are more than one million Yemenis in Saudi. Yemenis established one of the first international communities in the Kingdom due to the historical ties between Saudis and Yemenis, as well as their many common interests.
What is the situation of Yemenis in Saudi Arabia?
Yemenis have been harmed just as others migrant workers living in Saudi Arabia. But the Kingdom tries to manage these situations. Each country has a system with rules, and we must punish countries that harm Yemenis, suggest that they correct their laws, encourage investment, and consolidate security and stability.
What’s the most prominent obstacle to amending the Saudi labor law?
Despite the short amendment period, all major issues in the law were considered. I think that the new extension period will be sufficient to correct the current law. We call on Saudi Arabia to distinguish Yemenis from other foreign workers; Yemenis are the Saudis brothers, and the links between the two countries [are important].
Do you have a message for the Yemeni communities around the world?
I call on them to be ambassadors for their country and to work according to the laws in the country in which they live. Create a good image about the contribution of Yemenis, who will be considered as a great wealth of the world.
What’s your message to the Yemeni government regarding Yemeni contributions?
I wish for the government to repair what is broken in the country and to show an interest in expatriate affairs. The government should facilitate investment opportunities for Yemenis to encourage their investment at home instead of in other countries. This will empower expatriates to contribute to the economy of their own country, which in turn will create new jobs and reduce unemployment.