Monopololizing food, crafts all across Yemen
The restaurant's sign bears the name “Al-Azazzi for Aseed.” There are many other restaurants holding the same name on different streets of the capital city and in popular markets. Aseed is a popular meal in Yemen; it includes flour, water, salt, soup or yogurt. The best-known location for an authentic aseed meal is attributed to Al-Azaez village in the Al-Hujaria district of Taiz governorate.
Al-Azazzi said his restaurant preserves its fame by serving aseed to the public for more than 20 years, indicating that the number of clients continues to increase, though many other restaurants offer the same meal, on the same street, carrying the same name.
Al-Azazzi said good-quality aseed is found in restaurants run by people from his village—Al-Hujaria—locals who have been professional in making such a meal in all Yemeni cities.
According to popular descriptions of popular Yemeni meals, the village Al-Shaibani is famous for making bread, grilling fish and meat and soup. Therefore, Mohammed Abdu Al-Shaibani, the owner of a restaurant offering popular meals, strives his best to save his name from impersonation.
Al-Shaibani is not interested in politics, but he struggles to save the sign of Al-Shaibani from being manipulated by new restaurants whose owners are not from Al-Shaibani village. Some name their restaurants under the name of Al-Shaibani due to the fact that this name has been ascribed with offering popular, high-quality meals for years.
Al-Shaibani said impersonators don’t offer the same quality of food according to the standards of authentic Al-Shaibani restaurants; thus, this distorts the reputation of village locals who work in this field.
“It is possible to set up syndicates to defend the commercial properties of restaurants and face the perpetrators of our names who impersonate some names for the purpose of rapid monetary gains.”
In the field of trade and direct services, Al-Hujaria village is the hotspot for crafts and professions.
Dr. Adel Al-Sharjabi, a sociology professor at Sana'a University, said the areas that monopolize particular professions are enclosed by a society that tends to think in a primitive way; therefore, people follow the ones who prove successful.
Al-Hujaria's monopoly of crafts is not limited to popular meals; the activities of Al-Arook district have been confined to trade, Al-Sharjabi said, adding that the family of Hael Saeed Anam came from this district. His family is known as the biggest commercial family in Yemen.
Engineer Abdurahman Al-Masani, manager of Al-Burj Cement Factory in Taiz, said the majority of the maintenance workers in the factory came from a village in Al-Hujaria called Al-Najeisha; furthermore, the bulk of mechanics are from this village as well.
Mohammed Al-Absi, working at Aylol Digital Lab in Sana'a, said the residents of his village, Al-Aboos, have been unmatched in the field of photography, though the technology for photography is accessible to all.
There is a popular jest in the Yemeni streets saying that when the Russians went to space, they found a photographer from Al-Aboos village waiting for them to take photos.
Mahfoot Al-Masholi, a tradesman, whose Al-Mashawala village residents are known for selling clothes, said Al-Hujaria locals are not genetically skillful, but their grandfathers practiced these crafts in Aden, Africa and India, when these areas were under the control of Europeans.
“Our predecessors returned from international markets with a culture that respects any craft,” Al-Masholi said. “This culture currently has not been dominant in Yemeni societies that depend on looting, weapons and embezzling public money as a means of living.”