Yemen city bans Qat five days a week

Yemen city bans Qat five days a week
Authorities in Aden have limited the trading in the mild psychotropic plant to two days a week, citing security and social concerns.
2 min read
16 May, 2016

Qat ban

Security authorities in Aden, south Yemen, have issued a decision to ban the entry and selling of the Qat plant into the city for five days a week.  

The plant is commonly chewed and is said to produce a feeling of mild euphoria. It is a popular drug in Yemen, with some estimating that 40 percent of the country's water supply goes towards irrigating the plant.  

According to a circulated document issued by security forces in the city, the entry and trade of Qat in Aden will be outlawed, except for Thursdays and Fridays.  

The document said that the move was due to the damage to health and society caused by the chewing of the plant, and the move was being made in the interest of Aden's "security and stability".  

It also said that the selling of qat caused traffic congestion and prevented security forces from carrying out their duties.

Qat scan

Authorities said that said that checkpoints would be set up to catch offenders.  

Reactions to the decision have been mixed, with Yemeni blogger Hussein Waadi expressing concern that increased security measures would transform the city into a "prison camp of extraordinary measures". 

Read more: The politics of power and Qat

Suicide bombings have targeted Qat markets across Yemen, with five being killed in one such attack in Aden last month.

Waadi added that the problems that occur in Qat markets are due to the proliferation of arms, not consumption of the drug, which he said had little to do with war or the security situation in the city.  

Others have praised the decision, with Aden resident Khaled al-Heij describing the move as a "fine decision" and a significant step in addressing Yemeni concerns about their futures.  

He added that, although applying the ban could be difficult, "any obstacles can be overcome".

There have been previous attempts to ban the consumption of Qat in Yemen, with the plant being outlawed on the sparsely populated Yemeni island of Socotra.  

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula has also attempted to ban the plant in areas of war-torn Yemen under the militant group's control.  

The first attempt to ban the plant in the city of Aden was undertaken by the colonial British administration in 1957.  Demonstrations ensued, leading to a state of emergency being declared in the city.