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Yemen's Addiction

Two young men working at a restaurant settle in for an afternoon of qat chewing in the town of Manakha, in the Jebel Harraz region of Yemen, west of the capital Sana'a on 22nd June, 2010. Qat is a native flowering plant to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Predating the consumption of coffee in Yemen, it is consumed by 90% of Yemeni men and 40% of Yemeni women, chewed in large quantities for its mildly euphoric sensation. The country produces vast quantities of the plant, with a growth rate of 10% per year as well as importing from neighbouring Ethiopia. But with a serious water crisis in the country and qat farming taking 40% of the life giving liquid, Yemen is now faced with a potential emerging crisis: how to counter balance the production of this culturally and financially important commodity with that of water conservation and food production in this poorest of the Arab nations. Taxes on the sale of qat also reap huge profits for the government and with a multitude of other social and political problems within the country including a separatist movement in the south and potential attack by Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula it looks unlikely they will tackle the problem of qat consumption anytime soon.

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samphelps_yemenqat_026.jpg
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sam phelps
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Two young men working at a restaurant settle in for an afternoon of qat chewing in the town of Manakha,  in the Jebel Harraz region of Yemen, west of the capital Sana'a on 22nd June, 2010. Qat is a native flowering plant to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Predating the consumption of coffee in Yemen, it is consumed by 90% of Yemeni men and 40% of Yemeni women, chewed in large quantities for its mildly euphoric sensation. The country produces vast quantities of the plant, with a growth rate of 10% per year as well as importing from neighbouring Ethiopia. But with a serious water crisis  in the country and qat farming taking 40% of the life giving liquid,  Yemen is now faced with a potential emerging crisis: how to counter balance the production of this culturally and financially important commodity with that of water conservation and food production in this poorest of the Arab nations. Taxes on the sale of qat also reap huge profits for the government and with a multitude of other social and political problems within the country including a separatist movement in the south and potential attack by Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula it looks unlikely they will tackle the problem of qat consumption anytime soon.