Yemen Private Companies Double Security Expenses

Faroq al-Kamali

Yemeni investors and economists say that violence and lawlessness in the country have increased spending for security protection.

Sana’a and some Yemeni governorates fell into the hands of the Houthis in September 2014, while several parts of Yemen have seen a security breakdown, including robberies and attacks on businesses. Most recently there was the killing of the Chairman of the Commerce Chamber of Lahj, Abu Bakr Khamis, in South Yemen.

Abdualmajeed al-Batali, an economic expert, stressed that that security tensions have led to increased security spending, particularly from the private sector.

Tewfik al-Khameri, a businessman, said that he is using his own personal guards to secure his business companies. Most of them are from his area and others from government security forces.

Al-Khameri added that recently tribesman kidnapped his brother and asked for a ransom, which forced him to hire more guards.

There are no official statistics for the number of private companies operating in the field of security protection, but official sources estimate that there are between 40-50 licensed companies and 18 unlicensed companies.

According to workers in the security protection market, the tribal nature of Yemen has led to a growing role for militias and private security companies and a flourishing culture of bodyguards dominated by tribes.

Jaber al-Sanabani, director of the Group For Company, said that private security companies are not thriving in Yemen, explaining that the majority of his clients are from foreign companies and international organizations operating in Yemen.

The Chamber of Commerce of Ibb says that traders are planning a general strike this week by closing their shops in protest against the continuation of armed robberies.

Members of the Chamber of Commerce demanded that local authority and security agencies take precautionary measures to ensure the protection of property and businessmen. For his part, Mohammed al-Shami called on traders to take up arms and defend themselves.

According to the chairman of the trade issues committee in Chamber of Commerce, Abdulellah Al-Khateeb, 45 shops in the province have suffered looting and armed robbery at the hands of gangs during the recent period, with losses estimated to be more than 50 million riyals ($232,000).

Yemen is facing unprecedented financial pressures and economic difficulties, with political unrest and the freezing of foreign aid. Governmental statistics confirm that the economy and the general budget incurred losses of nearly 1.48 trillion riyals ($6.9 billion) due to the repeated sabotage of oil pipelines, gas transportation, and electricity networks between 2012 and 2014.

The losses also hit private sector companies as a result of the deteriorating security situation and the controlling of state institutions for more than five months by the Houthis.