Positioned in the Southern Part of the Arabian Peninsula, is Yemen or as it is sometimes called Happy Yaman. It was August 1997 when we were invited to a family wedding in Sana’a, the Capitol of Yaman.
When we received the invitation, so many things came to my mind, all the stories we read while studying history in school, the Silk Road, Queen Sheba, and the Green and Happy land of Yaman, however I knew that the updated reality of Yaman, even then in 1997, was one of a nation living mostly in abject poverty, with a high rate of illiteracy and a devastating history of forcing very young girls into marriage, often with men as old as their own fathers.
In other words, I was really not looking forward to this trip, little did I know that I will fall head over heels, in love with this place
Sana’a was as old as I expected, and people as tough as I was told, but there was something about that place, I couldn’t figure out, but I was genuinely liking the city with every day that went by.
Preparations for the wedding were going on and I had the task of flower decoration, something I loved to do until I found out that flowers were not a priority there, hence very difficult to find a variety.
I remember we were in a shop looking for accessories when a man holding a Kalashnikov ( automatic rifle) entered the store and went towards my husband while pointing the muzzle at him, my heart sank at the prospects of the outcome of this face to face encounter!
The gun wielding young man was actually trying to sell his rifle to my husband, an act that we learnt later, was very common in Yaman, all we needed in fact was to come back to Uganda with a Kalashnikov in hand!
Our short trip was made of several such interesting stories, I can clearly remember the market place, the silver beads, Agate and other semi-precious stones, traditional cloth and of course, spices. One other big shopping was honey, and if you haven’t tasted honey from Yaman, you haven’t tasted real honey.
Beijing´s Interest in Yemen
Beijing seeks normalcy in war-affected Yemen to ensure its flagship Belt & Road Initiative has safe access to the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea.
In an Official Statement, China’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun called upon the international community to provide “tailored assistance” to improve the living conditions of the Yemeni people and highlighted Yemen as a case for China’s position that development is an effective pathway to peace and stability for countries facing internal conflicts.
Zhang Jun’s statement on Yemen was noteworthy because it was more specific than Beijing’s traditionally ambiguous calls for intra-Yemeni dialogue and a political solution to the Yemen war. The Chinese representative’s comments coincide with a broader expansion of China’s involvement in Yemen.
China’s economic interests have become codified into official policy, as Beijing supports the inclusion of Yemen into its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and stated that it “stands ready” to participate in the economic reconstruction of Yemen.