Yemenis consider Ramadan a time to bury old disputes and to extend a friendly hand, even to their enemies. When it comes to creating social relations, there is no better time than now.
Unfortunately, for most Yemenis it is also a time for slacking and not working on a practical level. Working hours shorten and move toward the evening instead of bright and early in the morning. Also, many offices actually close entirely, such as legal and judiciary offices—as if legal matters don’t need to be dealt with during this month.
One business thrives, however, and that is the business of shopping. The month of Ramadan has become a commercial season, and so-called sales tempt even the poorest people to spend much beyond their budgets.
Politically speaking, this Ramadan is a very critical one. Because just as the month begins, a new phase of Yemen’s political transition is created. This is the technical phase of the National Dialogue Conference Preparatory Committee, which should create the structure and the logistical system for the National Dialogue, due to begin at the end of September.
The committee responsible for this is made up of a very diverse group of 25 high-profile Yemeni personalities; many of them working together for the very first time. It is going to be extremely difficult to make them see eye to eye on many matters, and coordinating the work of this group is going to be a very difficult task.
My hope is that the spirit of this month helps bring attitudes and minds together for the sake of having a successful, peaceful transition emerging from a fruitful and inclusive dialogue.