Arabia Felix

Published on 13 February 2012 in Essays
Bilal Ahmed Homran (author)

Bilal Ahmed Homran


I am far from my motherland (Yemen) and I am worried: Worried for my loved ones, worried for the children of a failing united society, worried for the lady I met in Change Square weeping over her son's body, and sadly I am worried for the whole Yemeni nation as it discovers the reaction to its freedom from a long and cruel 33 year dictatorship rule under Saleh.

I am at a distance far from the noise of gunfire. Yemen is at a crucial crossroads in its lifetime. 

My sole recommendation to the caretaker government would be to allow all of its people to contribute to the plans for a stronger, peaceful, and prosperous new Yemen. And sadly to say this has not been the case. President Saleh's rule over Yemen was not an easy task and I can truly say he did a great job ruling over a complex tribal, politically diverse and religious society. At the same time I must state the obvious that Saleh's rule over Yemen kept the life of the Yemeni nation like a ticking bomb waiting to explode and that's the reality on the ground now. The different factions of Yemeni society have their own self made interests on what is to become of Yemen after Saleh.

Criminal gangs have taken the streets of my hometown Taiz. Terrorists have mobilized and been given easy and free access to anything as the government has been preoccupied in trying to maintain power. The continued unsolved wrongs by the northerners towards their southern Yemeni counterparts kept the divide an option for the south. Sadly the corrupted greed that has overpowered every governmental employee has kept trust at a distance. The Houthi confederate in the north continues to aim for a one-hierarchy Zadi caliphate. And the high percentage of poverty has tested the patience of the Yemeni people.

Yemen is the poorest nation in the Middle East and the causes are many but all lie on the failed leadership of the Yemeni government. Riches in natural resources are in abundance in Yemen. And that's a fact to all of you Yemeni outsiders. Safety and corruption has caused these resources to go unnoticed.

Arabia-Felix is what the Romans called modern day Yemen. And they knew what they were talking about. Aside from the vast wealth hidden in and on Yemeni soil, is the hearts of the Yemeni people. Yes warm hospitality is what I enjoy and have grown accustomed to love.  Yemenis will do anything to make sure that their guests are welcomed with open arms. This isn't only to foreigners. I was driving to the internet cafe with my cousin one night during the holy month of Ramadan. We stopped by a local cafe and my cousin stepped out to order as I remained in the car to catch up on my reading.

As my cousin ordered our regular juices and sandwiches a teenage boy comes by my car and hands me two pieces of kak (a Yemeni cookie like cake pastry). With simplicity and warmth I realized that he only kept one for himself.

I can roam through the forbidden zone of Hadramout on a camel, knowing that hospitality is waiting at the end of the long desert divide.

Without hesitation I must say that Yemen is my motherland and it has an abundance of greatness to be found. It will be decades before its people discover the true realities of the new democratic norms; A newly divided society if the caretaker government fails to include all of the Yemeni people in its decision-making. I wish Yemen nothing but the peaceful best and a prosperous future Insha Allah!