Qat (Catha edulis)

Only in Yemen would protesters come out in droves with cheeks bulging with qat. The image above is a close-up of a much larger photo published in AlMonitor and entitled “Supporters of the Shiite Houthi rebel group shout slogans during a demonstration in Sanaa against the deportation of Yemeni laborers from Saudi Arabia, April 5, 2013. (photo by REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah).”

Urban structure of Doha until the 1960s; Source: Scharfenort 2012 (Exhibition in Msheireb Enrichment Center)

The second issue of the new journal Arabian Humanities, with selections in both English and French, is now available online here.

The table of contents is reproduced below:

Juliette Honvault
Villes et dynamiques urbaines en péninsule Arabique
Cities and Urban Dynamics in the Arabian Peninsula

Claire Beaugrand, Amélie Le Renard et Roman Stadnicki
Au-delà de la Skyline : des villes en transformation dans la péninsule Arabique [Texte intégral]
Beyond the Skyline: Cities in Transformation in the Arabian Peninsula [Texte intégral | traduction]

Nelida Fuccaro
Preface: Urban Studies in the Arabian Peninsula: 6 Thoughts on the Field [Texte intégral]
Préface : Les études urbaines en péninsule Arabique
1. Croissances, politiques et projets
Growth paths, politics and projects

Brigitte Dumortier
Ras al‑Khaïmah, l’essor récent d’une ville moyenne du Golfe [Texte intégral]
Ras al‑Khaimah : the recent dynamics of a middle size city of the Arab‑Persian Gulf

Steffen Wippel
Développement et fragmentation d’une ville moyenne en cours de mondialisation : le cas de Salalah (Oman) [Texte intégral]
Development and Fragmentation of a Globalizing Secondary City: The Case of Salalah (Oman)

Sebastian Maisel
The Transformation of ‘Unayza: Where is the “Paris of Najd” today? [Texte intégral]
La transformation de ‘Unayza : où en est le « Paris du Najd » ?
Philippe Cadène
Koweït City : planification urbaine et stratégie régionale [Texte intégral]
Kuwait City: Urban Planning and Regional Strategy (more…)

Men smoke shisha water pipes in a cafe in Sanaa, Oct. 1, 2011. (photo by REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah)

Yemen’s Modern Coffee Shops: Progressive, Yet Exclusive
by Farea al-Muslimi, Al-Monitor, September 5 2013

SANAA, Yemen — Over the past few decades, Yemen has been known to conjure images of serious conservatism, isolation between men and women and male dominance over issues pertaining to daily life.

However, things look different here: A group of boys, girls, men and women are having discussions in modern coffee shops, which have become popular in the past 10 years and have significantly become more common across Sanaa in the past few years, including the historical part of the old city. The coffee shops, however, are more concentrated in the southwest of the city, where the richest and most open neighborhood, al-Siyasi Hadda, is located. They have become posh meeting spots for the privileged classes that can afford it.

There are coffee shops with foreign names that largely resemble any coffee shop in Amman, Cairo or Beirut, but the difference here is that the stone buildings are more elegant and posh.

Waitresses — hailing from Ethiopia and East Asia, alongside a few Yemenis — wear uniforms and serve you with a gentle smile that you cannot find elsewhere in the city. In fact, you usually cannot so much as look at a woman’s body, even if she were covered from head to toe. One can typically see little more than the standard black abaya, or a niqab for the more conservative.

You can order hot or cold beverages and Western snacks, the names of which are unknown to many people. Moreover, you can spot the most modern and cleanest coffee shops if you do not smoke shisha [sweetened tobacco smoked with a water pipe]. Some coffee shops offer it for high prices, while others do not find it suitable to be served in their establishment. (more…)

Shops in Crater in the 1960s

[This is the second part of a reflective essay on the author’s upbringing. For part one, click here.]

by Samira Ali BinDaair

Back to the roots

The return to Yemen came sooner than we expected in the last phases of British rule in South Yemen. Being young, my brothers and I managed to adjust quickly to our new life and whereas I had enjoyed riding bicycles and climbing trees in Africa we found new forms of entertainment like riding gari gamal (camel carts) and others. Quite often when we went shopping in Crater we were suddenly told to get to the floor as the bullets passed over our heads and while my mother looked worried, to us it seemed like a cowboy film. It was the exchange of fire between British soldiers and what they called “Snipers” but what the Yemenis called “freedom fighters,” There were many checkpoints then especially at the “Aqaba” and the golden highlanders with their Scottish kilts and red caps were a common sight in those days.

As adolescents we were filled with nationalistic ideas of independence, although I dare say without necessarily understanding the historical antecedents of British rule nor all the political implications of the struggle then. As soon as we went to Abyan beach in Khormaksar, we became children again as we played with the waves collecting seashells and chasing the sea gulls, forgetting all about revolution. Alas we had weaved dreams bigger than the half pennies in our pockets.

The convent school I went to in Crater Aden was a completely different version of Yemen and I still remember the kind sister Serena who had taught me how to play the piano,contrasting with the life within my grandfather’s cousin’s stone house in Sheikh Abdulla street in Crater with its old fashioned structure. His wife would sit in the afternoon in her elaborate sitting room, chew qat and smoke the mada’a (waterpipe). In those days it was shameful for young girls to chew qat or smoke in contrast to what is the case today when qat chewing has crossed the age barrier across the board. (more…)

Webshaykh’s Note: An article entitled “Qat, Cosmopolitanism, and Modernity in Sana’a, Yemen” has been written by Irene van Oorschot, and published inArabian Humanities, Vol. 1, 2013. Her ethnographic study focuses on urban women in Sanaa. I attach here the beginning paragraphs, but urge readers to read the full article on Arabian Humanities, a new journal dealing with Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.

The prevalence of qat consumption in Yemen strikes even the most casual of observers. Adolescent and adult men can be seen chewing in shops, taxis, and on the streets, while the many qat vendors in the streets and squares of Sana’a contribute —in the eyes of many tourists— to its quaint charm. While women do not usually chew qat in public places, married women chew qat in the privacy of their own or their female relatives’ houses. Chewing qat is however held to be shameful for unmarried women, a notion which is sometimes explained with reference to the alleged effects qat has on people’s libido. As a (sexual) stimulant, qat has no place in unmarried women’s lives. After all, they are not supposed to have premarital relationships, and as such are “not supposed to chew”. However, among unmarried women of the educated and urban elites, qat chewing is an popular way to spend one’s spare time:

“It is just a way to relax, to unwind, to be away from work, and to be with my friends,” Wafā’, an unmarried woman, told me. “My married sister chews qat, too, and she is even younger [than I am]! So why should I not get to chew qat and relax?” (more…)

One of the most important volumes for anyone interested in Yemen is San’a’ An Arabian Islamic City, edited by R. B. Serjeant and R. Lewcock for the World of Islam Festival Trust in 1983. Long out-of-print, it is now being brought back into print. And there is a discount, if ordered before April 30, 2013.

The published price is £85.00 but the book is being offered at a pre-publication price of £50.00 until 30th of April 2013, quote SP13 to receive this offer.

For details, contact:

Vicki Coombs
Melisende UK Ltd
G8 Allen House
The Maltings, Station Road
Herts. CM21 9JX
+44 (0)1279 721398

Qat tree in the highland valley of al-Ahjur; photograph by Daniel Martin Varisco

محمد فارع محمد الدبعي
بروفيسور الموارد المائية – جامعة صنعاء
الأحد, 25 نوفمبر, 2012

التفكير جدياً في استيراد القات من دول الجوار على مراحل حفاظاً على الإنسان في اليمن.

لماذا كل شيء يمكن استيراده في بلادنا (كل شيء) ما عدا القات؟؟

منع استخدام المبيدات في زراعة القات لما تشكله من أضرار على صحة المواطنين

توطين تكنولوجيا تحلية المياه في المناطق الساحلية باعتبارها الحل الذي لا بديل عنه لمجابهة الحاجة المتزايدة لهذا المورد على الدوام.

العمل على أن تكون عبوة قنينة الماء المعبأة نصف لتر فقط، حفاظاً على كثير من الماء المهدور.

استيراد القات الخالي من المبيدات أصبح ضرورة للحد من الاستنزاف الحاد للمياه الجوفية والعبث بالمواطن اليمني صحياً ومادياً

المشكلة في غاية الأهمية والخطورة بالنسبة لنا ولأجيالنا القادمة وعلى الجهات المسئولة إيجاد الحلول والمعالجات بدلاً من عقد المؤتمرات والندوات وورش العمل المغلقة التي تستهلك معونات وهبات المنظمات الدولية ويستفيد منها منظموها فقط وبدون مردود على الصعيد الوطني. إن ما يتم القيام به لحل مشكلة المياه والحد من التوسع في زراعة القات لا يلامس حل المشكلة ولا يعطي الاطمئنان لتنمية مستدامة تبشر بمستقبل واعد.

لليمن تاريخ طويل في إدارة الموارد المائية والحفاظ عليها. وما بناء سد مأرب التاريخي قبل ثلاثة ألف سنة، وصهاريج عدن التاريخية، وكذلك بناء السدود الصغيرة في المنحدرات الجبلية، إلا شاهداً على ذلك، لقد اختفى الكثير من هذه السدود الصغيرة وأصبحت في ذمة التاريخ، وما تبقى منها لا يعمل، لقد عملت هذه السدود على حفظ الماء من أجل الري الزراعي والشرب والاستخدامات المنزلية المختلفة، وساعدت في تغذية الخزان الجوفي.

The Yemeni cartoon above says it all: “I read in a book about the harmful health effects from qat and cigarettes, so I decided, God willing, to cease reading.”

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