Published on 28 August 2014 by Nadia Al-Sakkaf in Interview
Nadia Al-Sakkaf, the editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times, interviewed Jeroen Verheul, the former Netherlands ambassador to Yemen, at the Netherland’s embassy in Sana’a.
Verheul, who has been in the country since 2012, arriving in the midst of Yemen’s political transition, shared his experience and fondness for Yemen before embarking on a new journey as Roving Ambassador at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hague.
“I feel very sad to leave Yemen, because both Yemen as a country and its population have touched my heart,” he says.
Talking about his time in Sana’a, Verheul explained his fascination with the rugged terrain and his unending love for hiking in Yemen’s beautiful mountains. Verheul visited Yemen once before, in 2001, where he had the opportunity to sample qat. Like many first-time visitors to the country, he had his share, and the experience was far bitter than he had imagined. He admits that since then, “I’ve not had it again.”
Apart from beautiful landscapes, Verheul has been struck by the friendliness, hospitality, and open attitude of the Yemeni people. He regrets that he was not able to see more of the country and its people, but says he felt restricted due to the security situation. What hurts Verheul most is the plight of the people, due to lack of basic needs such as consistent power, fuel, and water supply.
In an interview with Nadia Al-Sakkaf, Verheul talks about his remorse after seeing the current political uncertainties stall the country’s progress, and emphasizes the imminent need for political and economic stability. He also discusses the Netherlands’ contribution towards a safe water project and his vision for a brighter Yemen.