Scraping a living: Salt offers women lifeline in Yemen

Scraping a living: Salt offers women lifeline in Yemen
A woman digs salt extraction basins at the Brom Mayfa mining area in Yemen’s southern coastal district of Al-Mukalla in the east central Hadramawt province. (AFP)
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Updated 04 February 2022

Scraping a living: Salt offers women lifeline in Yemen

Scraping a living: Salt offers women lifeline in Yemen

Al-MUKALLA: Scooping up handfuls of white crystals from coastal pools, a group of women in Yemen harvest salt — a traditional industry proving to be a lifeline after seven years of war.

Zakiya Obeid is one among nearly 500 women who work in the industry in a village overlooking the Gulf of Aden, on Yemen’s southern coast.

“We cooperate and take shifts because it is a sisterhood and we know each others’ difficult circumstances,” said Obeid said.

Employment is so scarce that the women work in rotation to allow more people to benefit.

She said the women are divided into two groups, with each working for 15 days while the others rest.

In bare feet and mud-spattered abaya robes, the women dig basins at low tide and return when the seawater has evaporated to dredge up the salt for packaging and selling.

The time-honored livelihood has been passed down from generation to generation.

It is now a means of survival, providing many families with their only source of income.

The women earn about $100 per month for harvesting the salt and packing it in plastic containers.

Since the formation of the Al-Hassi Association for Sea Salt Production in 2020, the women are able to transport the salt to be ground, packaged and sold across Yemen.

“Before then, we used to do the same work but could only sell the salt raw,” Obeid said.

“But that is no longer the case, with the association providing us with bags and transport.”

The head of the Al-Hassi Association, Khamis Bahtroush, said the women, who produce between 20-30 tons of salt every three months, have come to rely on this industry.

“Production is lower in winter than in summer,” he said.

“Each bag is sold for approximately 3,000 Yemeni rials ($12) ... but we are struggling with inflation and do not have liquidity to give them raises.

“This is their only source of income ... they have nothing else. No farms, no livestock.”

The UN Population Fund has said the loss of male breadwinners in the conflict has added to the difficulties faced by women.

“The pressure is even more severe where women or girls suddenly find themselves responsible for providing for their families when they themselves have been deprived of basic education or vocational training,” it said.


Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland
Updated 13 sec ago

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland

Egypt retrieves smuggled ancient statue from Switzerland
  • Swiss customs found artifact in 2018 during routine inspection
  • From Late Period, it depicts goddess Isis carrying her son Horus

CAIRO: Egypt has recovered from Switzerland an ancient bronze statue taken out of the country illegally. It dates to the Late Period of around 664 to 332 B.C. and depicts the goddess Isis carrying her son Horus.

Wael Gad, Egypt’s ambassador to Switzerland, received the statue, which was kept at the embassy in preparation for its return to the country.

In November 2018, Swiss customs officials discovered the statue during a routine inspection.

An Egyptian committee of experts confirmed that the seized statue was surreptitiously excavated and smuggled out of the country.

Egypt’s foreign ministry said the efforts were indicative of “the utmost importance that Egypt attaches to … recovering smuggled antiquities and returning them to the homeland.”

Earlier this month, Egypt’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recovered 16 artifacts from the US. This was in coordination with Egypt’s foreign ministry and New York’s public prosecutor.

“During the past year, Egypt recovered more than 5,300 antiquities from America, France, Spain and Canada,” said Shaaban Abdel-Gawad, general supervisor of the administration of recovered antiquities at the Supreme Council of Antiquities.


Pope Francis to visit Bahrain in November: Vatican

Pope Francis to visit Bahrain in November: Vatican
Updated 27 min 45 sec ago

Pope Francis to visit Bahrain in November: Vatican

Pope Francis to visit Bahrain in November: Vatican

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will in November visit Bahrain, home to the biggest Catholic church in the Arabian peninsula, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Francis, 85, will be the first pope ever to visit the majority-Muslim Arabian Gulf country, according to Vatican News.

He has been under doctor’s orders to slow down, after suffering from a painful knee that has forced him to use a wheelchair and cancel some events.

Francis will visit the capital of Manama and city of Awali during the November 3 to 6 trip, and will attend the “Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.”

Further details of the visit — the 39th international trip of Francis’s papacy — will be released at a later date.

But the pontiff is likely to visit the cavernous Cathedral of Our Lady of Arabia, in Awali, which opened its doors last year.

The modern-style church lies about 1.6 kilometers from a large mosque and a stone’s throw from an oil well, in the south of the state.

It was built to serve the country’s 80,000 or so Catholics, mainly workers from Asia, mostly India and the Philippines.

The pontiff received Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa at the Vatican in 2014.

The pair discussed “peace and stability in the Middle East” and the Christian community’s positive contribution to the country, the Holy See said at the time.

The trip comes on the back of another journey to a Muslim-majority country, following Francis’s visit to Kazakhstan earlier this month.


Bahrain’s Crown Prince discusses bilateral relations with Japan PM

Bahrain’s Crown Prince discusses bilateral relations with Japan PM
Updated 28 September 2022

Bahrain’s Crown Prince discusses bilateral relations with Japan PM

Bahrain’s Crown Prince discusses bilateral relations with Japan PM

DUBAI: Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa met with Japan’s Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio at Akasaka Palace in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The crown prince discussed the depth of Bahrain-Japan relations, emphasizing Bahrain’s commitment to strengthening bilateral relations between the two nations.

Kishida and Prince Salman also agreed to explore opportunities that would aid the advancement of Bahrain and Japan’s strategic partnership in various fields.

The two leaders discussed the latest regional and international economic developments, and issues of common interest.

Bahrain’s PM attended ABE Shinzo’s state funeral on Tuesday and extended condolences to Abe’s wife, Akie Abe, and their family.

 

*This article was originally published on Arab News Japan.  


Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return
Updated 28 September 2022

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return

Kuwait goes to polls, yet again, as opposition groups return
  • Kuwait has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962
  • Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait will hold its most inclusive elections in a decade Thursday with some opposition groups ending a boycott after the oil-rich country’s royal rulers pledged not to interfere with parliament.
The polls are the sixth in 10 years, reflecting the repeated political crises that have gripped the only Gulf Arab state with a fully elected parliament.
The elections come after Crown Prince Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah announced the dissolution of parliament in June following disputes between lawmakers and the government, the fourth to be named in two years.
Several opposition MPs had been on strike in protest at delays to parliamentary sessions and the failure to form a new government. A core source of friction is MPs’ demand for ministers from the royal family to be held accountable for corruption.
Kuwait, which borders Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran and is one of the world’s biggest oil exporters, has held 18 elections since the parliamentary system was adopted in 1962.
But when he dissolved parliament, Sheikh Meshal promised there would be no interference by authorities in the election or the new parliament.
“We will not interfere in the people’s choices for their representatives, nor will we interfere with the choices of the next National Assembly in choosing its speaker or its committees,” the crown prince said.
“Parliament will be the master of its decisions, and we will not be supporting one faction at the expense of another. We will stand at the same distance from everyone.”
Opposition figures have stayed out of elections over the past 10 years, accusing executive authorities of meddling in the workings of parliament.
One of them, People’s Action Movement candidate Mohammad Musaed Al-Dossari, said he had been persuaded to stand again by the crown prince’s promises.
Sheikh Meshal’s speech “reassured” Kuwaitis and “encouraged the political groups and MPs who had been boycotting to return to run in the elections,” Al-Dossari said.
Thursday’s vote also comes after the country’s emir issued an amnesty last year for political opponents who had been tried on various charges.
Some 305 candidates, including 22 women, are competing for 50 seats in five constituencies. Parliament has been all-male since the only woman MP lost her seat in December 2020.
Women represent 51.2 percent of the 795,920 voters. About 70 percent of the population of around 4.2 million is made up of expatriates.
While the last elections were affected by anti-coronavirus measures, this time candidates have been able to open electoral offices and hold live hustings. Security services have stepped up their monitoring of vote-buying.
The election results are expected to be announced on Friday. The opposition, mostly Islamist politicians, won 24 seats out of 50 in the last polls.


Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone
Updated 28 September 2022

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone

Cleric’s supporters again storm Baghdad’s government zone
  • Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government

BAGHDAD: Supporters of Iraq’s influential Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr again stormed Baghdad’s Green Zone government area Wednesday as the Iraqi parliament holds session on the resignation of its speaker.
Associated Press journalists saw those supporting Sadr waving flags as security forces gathered around them.
Al-Sadr’s bloc won the most votes in parliamentary elections last October but he has been unable to form a majority government. His followers stormed the parliament in late July to prevent their rivals from Iran-backed Shiite groups from forming the government.
With ensuing rallies, clashes with security forces, counter-rallies and a sit-in outside parliament, the government formation process has stalled.
Al-Sadr has now been calling for the dissolution of parliament and early elections and has been in a power struggle with his Iran-backed rivals since the vote.