Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world
April 6, 2008 § 24 Comments
At least that’s what this AP article would have us believe! The article ends with this charming description of Yemen:
Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab world, is Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland and has a persistent al-Qaida movement that has attacked and killed foreigners on several occasions.
It is true that either al-Qaida or a movement inspired by al-Qaida has attacked and killed foreigners in Yemen. But — the “poorest country in the Arab world” and “Osama bin Laden’s ancestral homeland” — that’s just lazy and incomplete journalism.
By what standard is Yemen the poorest country in the Arab world? Is it because every single hectare of land has not been penetrated by Western development agencies? Is it based on some World Bank calculation of GDP and other bullshit statistics? To label a country as the “poorest country in the Arab world” is placing all kinds of Western-guided standards on a population which has seemingly rejected many of these practices.
Furthermore, the discussion of “poverty” in the context of “terrorism” (the AP article was a brief on an explosion at a foreigner housing compound in Sanaa) is fraught with all sorts of errors and latent suggestions for “solutions” to this poverty. Specifically, the World Bank is already very active in Yemen — so, by connecting “poverty” with “terrorism” could be a possible impetus for the Bank’s further encroachment on Yemen’s local economic structures. Poverty is not at the root of terrorism.
As for the claim of Yemen being Bin Laden’s “ancestral homeland” — this might be true, but it’s probably also true for, like, half of the Arabs in the Middle East! Many of the Shi’a of Jabal Amal (southern Lebanon) also claim ancient roots in Yemen from companions of the Prophet Mohammad, but this fact is not mentioned in every article about southern Lebanon! The attempt to portray Yemen as this dark country, full of “poverty” and relatives of Bin Laden is irresponsible at best, and a propaganda tool for Western companies and development agencies at worst.