The Yemen Arab Republic -- sometimes called North Yemen -- has embarked on a massive five-year development programme.
The Yemen Arab Republic -- sometimes called North Yemen -- has embarked on a massive five-year development programme. It plans to spend 16,000,000,000 (16-billion)riyals, worth about 3???? billion United States dollars, on improving its roads, ports, schools and hospitals, and developing its agriculture and mineral resources. Much of the money, it hopes, will come from foreign sources.
SYNOPSIS: Sana'a, the capital, is an ancient city. Traces still survive of buildings nearly 2,000 years old; its original foundation is buried in legend. Though it is the country's largest city, its population is relatively small: in the region of 150,000.
Modern trucks from western Europe weave through the crowds in the old markets, which sell traditional silverware and jewellery. Men wear exquisite ornamental daggers, and 20th-century digital watches.
Old houses many storeys high are characteristic. Private and public building are elaborately decorated. The Government requires new building to be faced in traditional style.
But its desire to preserve the best of the old is combined with a wish to modernise the economy. So last month it called a conference of experts from some 40 countries, including the United States, the Soviet Union and China, to discuss ways and means.
The new President, Colonel Ahmed Hussein al-Ghashmi, attended the opening session. He took office in October after the assassination of the late President, Ibrahim al-Hamdi. The motive for the killing of President Hamdi, who was generally popular, has never been established.
President Ghashmi wanted the conference to continue, in spite of the assassination. Its main purpose was to discuss the development plan and how the necessary funds could best be raised. The World Band and the International Monetary Fund were represented, as well as foreign governments.
One of the priorities will be new roads. Before the revolution of 1962, North Yemen had no asphalted roads. Now, a two-lane carriageway built by Iraq, links Sana'a with its airport; others connect the capital with the principal port, Hodeida, and the city of Taiz.
Sana's recently had its first traffic lights installed. Public transport is poor, but 200 buses from France are on order.
This textile factory was built in Sana'a ten years ago by China. It is state-owned, and employs 1,500 people, many of them women. China is now planning to set up a textile mill in Hodeida. North Yemen produces high quality cotton, which is its most profitable export. But to develop its own industry it has to import machinery.
One persistent problem is the shortage of skilled labour. About a million North Yemenis have gone to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, attracted by high wages. They send substantial sums back to their families, which brings prosperity, but also fuels inflation. To get development plan really moving, it will be necessary both to train more skilled men and to attract the emigrants back home.