German University Holds a Scientific Conference on Qat

By NY Staff

In Frankfurt, Germany, Gotha University held the first scientific research conference to explore the topic of qat. Held from 26 to 28 September 2013, the conference included 24 scientific studies prepared by researchers from European and American universities. Presenters, hailing from the United States, Germany, Britain, Sweden, Ethiopia, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates were excited to exchange scientific knowledge and information about the health, social, and economic effects of the polarizing plant.

Pierre Jater, a German doctor at Gotha University, presented a summation of a 12-year effort to write his book “Qat Policy in Yemen”. At 800 pages, his book is a compendium of field research that explains the effects of qat on a Yemeni’s life, income level, and political decisions.

Of the presenters, many aspired to use the conference as an impetus to build an institutional network that would act as a repository to collect, utilize, and disseminate scientific studies on qat. One such presenter was Dr. Rashad Sanusi, director of the Center for Research on Psychotropic Substances at Jazan University, Saudi Arabia, who talked about the phenomenon of qat proliferation and addiction in the region. He detailed important ways to mitigate qat addiction such as awareness campaigns targeting the youth of the country.

While Yemen is often considered the focal point of the qat debate, it’s not the only country facing this polarizing issue. Countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia share the same quandary. EU nations, realizing the potential consequences of a society underpinned by qat, are analyzing proliferation patterns in these Northeast African countries as a way to gauge qat’s migration.

Such a migration happens many ways, but the vector most prominently seen is through the emigration of Yemeni and Northeast African communities. According to a German research study, many reasons contribute to why immigrants channel the Qat culture to their new destinations. Said reasons include psychological comfort, physical comfort, and social bonding.

Those who attended the conference included Professor Mustafa al-Absi from the University of Minnesota Duluth, U.S.; Dr. Saba Qasem from London, U.K.; agronomist Qahtan Asbahi from Sweden; agricultural engineer Abdul Majeed Humairi from Jena University, Germany; and social activist Eng Moataz from the University of Rostock, Germany.