Despite conflict, demand for qat still strong in Yemen

Updated 15 April 2015

Despite conflict, demand for qat still strong in Yemen

ADEN: Civil war may be tearing Yemen apart but every afternoon combatants set aside the struggle for the country’s future to stuff their cheeks with wads of the narcotic green leaf, qat.
The national pastime of chewing qat is one of the few certainties in a nation jolted by airstrikes and street fighting.
From lunchtime to sunset prayers, shelling inevitably dies down and fighters from both sides put aside their Kalashnikovs to enjoy the buzz.
Craving for the mild stimulant has kept the qat trade going strong in an economy otherwise devastated by war.
Farmers rise to cut it, traders brave bombs to transport it and addicts scrape empty pockets to scoop up a bag of the soft green leaves chewed daily by millions of Yemenis. It costs between 2 to 14 dollars a bag, depending on the quality.
Three weeks of war aimed at stemming the advance of Iranian-allied Houthi rebels have only increased Yemenis’ desire for the relaxing escape provided by qat.
Mohammed Azal, a government employee rendered idle by battles in the southern city of Aden, strolled through an abandoned street chewing on the bitter morsels and storing them into a wad bulging inside his cheek.
“In a war situation like this, with the stress and explosions, qat is the one thing in our day that can give us a bit of peace and comfort,” he slurred.
One in every seven working Yemenis is employed in producing and distributing qat, making it the largest single source of rural income and the second largest source of employment in the country after the agriculture and herding sector, exceeding even the public sector, according to the World Bank.
Offices and banks have closed, depriving residents of cash, but the qat souks still bustle with loud bargaining as war rages.
Qat is one of the only commodities still flowing into the city, as fighting has struck water and power infrastructure while scaring off suppliers of milk and meat.
Aden’s qat basket is Dhalea. Getting there these days requires a two-hour drive through a war zone contested by Shiite rebels, militiamen and Al-Qaeda. Nevertheless, trader Ali Muhsin Al-Jahafi plies the route there and back every day.
“Every day is an adventure. Getting from here to there involves airstrike, clashes, checkpoints and every kind of danger,” he said.
Classified as a “drug of abuse that can produce mild to moderate psychological dependence” by the World Health Organization, qat’s physical symptoms can include hallucinations, depression and tooth decay.
Surveys suggest that more Yemenis than ever — at least 80 percent of men, about 60 percent of women and increasing numbers of children under 10 — settle down most afternoons to chew.


Egyptian ministry launches mobile app

Egyptian police guard in front of the new government district in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt May 2, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 43 min 47 sec ago

Egyptian ministry launches mobile app

  • The app is available for Android users, and officials are working on making it available for iOS users as well, communications expert Ashraf El-Wardany told Arab News

CIARO: The Ministry of Immigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs has launched Kallem Masr (Call Egypt), a mobile app to facilitate communication with citizens living abroad.
Nabila Makram, minister of immigration and Egyptian expatriates affairs, said the free app includes a monthly electronic magazine issued by the ministry in both Arabic and English.
The app is available for Android users, and officials are working on making it available for iOS users as well, communications expert Ashraf El-Wardany told Arab News.
Android users can download the app from Google Play. Its sections include questions and answers, contact us, complaints, an interactive map of locations of embassies and consulates, and a news section on the ministry’s activities.

HIGHLIGHT

Android users can download the app from Google Play. Its sections include questions and answers, contact us, complaints, an interactive map of locations of embassies and consulates, and a news section on the ministry’s activities.

Islam El-Souissi, an Egyptian community leader in Rome, praised the app, saying “all Egyptians living abroad are expressing their great happiness” about it.
But some Egyptians who visited the app’s page on Google Play said it is not available in some countries such as Sweden. Others complained that they had problems logging in.