Hadhramaut: The Tattered Economy & Dysfunctional institutions

Hadhramaut: The Tattered Economy & Dysfunctional institutions
By Muhammad Bin-Dohry – August 2019.

It goes without saying this paper will be met with resentment from others, but the facts on the ground speak volumes on the current state of affairs in our ancestral homeland.

Not only there is no functional government, but the chaotic scenes on the streets of Mukalla the supposedly coastal capital of Hadhramaut is a prime example. By all comparisons Seiyun in the interior (Wadi) considered as the other capital is by far cleaner and orderly though sporadic killings happen like anywhere else in the country.

In March 2019 the "legitimate government legislators" found it safer to have a two day session attended for an hour by the "Legitimate President Abdu Rabo Mansour Hadi" for the opening ceremony. Aden the Capital of the South was considered insecure. He then rushed back to Riyadh his residence since fleeing the country in 2015.

This makes the Coast (Sahel) and the Wadi as living in two separate entities. The problem is security which is shared between the so called "legitimate government forces" in the Wadi while the Sahel is controlled by UAE forces with loyal locally appointed security.

The economy of Hadhramaut as well as the other areas is controlled by the private enterprise elites who have a stranglehold on the rate of exchange and imports. The US Dollar rate officially reached YR 560 recently, however it came from over YR 820 to the US Dollar in 2018. The Central Bank runs short of foreign currency and leaves most private owned banks without foreign exchange. You however can get from local moneychangers all kinds of foreign currency, the currency most in use is the Saudi Arabian Riyal and the US Dollar and to a lesser extent the UAE Dirham. All quotations by the landlords, hotels, car dealers, estate agents are in Saudi Riyals. It is the luxury of the very few and controlled by a handful of money changers, who normally import the Gasoline, Diesel, foodstuffs, building materials and other essentials.

There is a complete breakdown of the civil service, lack of law and order, a complete control of irresponsible officials who make no decisions and are failing the entire community. Every official has his own whims and if he is not available in office no person can act on his behalf or take on the task. One can go up and down the offices for days if not months to have his/her issue sorted out, that is, if it is sorted at all.
On top of all these woes, power generation (electricity) has been the worst any country can accept. The few who can afford generators, batteries to keep life going, purchase for their own domestic use and shops. The larger organisations have larger generators which all use diesel and when there is a shortage the black market works.

Long queues of cars for gasoline has been part of the daily life, the same with domestic gas.
Life is like hell on earth and you can imagine those who cannot afford such luxuries. Power cuts are so frequent that even peoples' appliances breakdown.

Imagine living without electricity for 10-15 hours or more daily in the summer heat of 42-45 degrees centigrade. Life has been unbearable and the voices are now heard loud and clear against the local administration and the "government" for their lack of action to meet their obligations and improve the standard of living as well as attending to the infrastructure which is breaking down and makes them a laughing stock for not using common sense in many issues.

Corruption must not be left off, because it is so rampant in recent years which has spread all the way to all parts of the Southern areas after the unity with the North since 1990.

A synopsis and some solutions

To tackle the problems facing Hadhramaut economically, is to first lay down a foundation and system of governance with institutions given the terms of reference on how to execute their official duties and positions. All must be trained personnel as civil servants carrying out their duties in line with their stated responsibilities. Free from government interference and bureaucracy inherited from former corrupt regimes.

They have to engage and tackle problems step by step, appoint the right companies to execute the essential projects after being  studied professionally and put out to tender.
The electricity issue requires an international consultancy company to provide a solution for Hadhramaut as a whole. As far as we are aware Hadhramaut can be served by a 300MW  power plant for now, that will cover (the Coast about 200MW usage and the Wadi about 100MW usage). Such a plant using Gas/Diesel  can cost something in the region of an estimated US$200 million.
 We however need to look ahead for the next 5 years or more then the need is required for a higher capacity production of energy to meet the demands of the future.

At the moment the price paid for the purchase of generators, batteries.and other means, costs millions to the population. If the government cannot undertake such a project for its own citizens, then surely a shareholding company can come up with the funding and negotiate terms with the suppliers. It is a great shame that wealthy Hadhramis in the homeland and the diaspora can not bring their heads and minds together and look towards improving their homeland with effective and workable strategies towards investing in mega projects.

On the other hand many people are said to ignore paying their electricity bills, who can blame them, when the service is almost NIL! There must be rules and regulations placed by the Electricity Corporation and they are in the front line to offer a good service and have a payment system in place. BUT they must first get their act right for supplying power and at the same time have meters installed for all users.

On the electricity/power generation projects, contact can be made with companies such as Siemens (Germany), General Electric (USA), Wartsila (Netherlands) and others to get a clearer and better picture on the alternatives available for power generation for Hadhramaut.
These suggestions must be discussed and digested by knowledgeable people .
Oman recently embarked and is firming up plans on a 1,200 MW clean-coal power project in stages. The proposed scheme will be executed on a Build Own Operate (BOO) basis over a period of years. We should learn from our neighbours and stop a cycle of killings and corruption which have left us out and kept us in the middle ages.

The same applies to Education, Healthcare and the other services which have deteriorated over the years. We need to bring back Hadhrami talent and wisdom back to the homeland and develop a new country with expertise, corruption free and transparent. There has been a brain drain of the younger generation who have studied abroad and are now being offered lucrative jobs elsewhere. Why??
The reason is simple Hadhramaut does not have the infrastructure or incentives to bring these talents back home. There must be well placed strategies and think tanks to offer a way forward.

It is high time for Hadhramis to stop chatting and blaming others for their failures in the homeland, they should forget their self and personal interests and focus on Hadhramaut and the future of the coming generations. Their forefathers ventured out and proved themselves in their adopted countries and earned respect, dignity and made a difference in the societies they lived in and we now see Hadhramis holding high positions in overseas governments.

Good governance means:- 

All men and women should have a voice in decision-making, either directly or through legitimate intermediate institutions that represent their interests. Such broad participation is built on freedom of association and speech, as well as capacities to participate constructively.

Rule of law
Legal frameworks should be fair and enforced impartially, particularly the laws on human rights.
Transparency is built on the free flow of information. Processes, institutions and information are directly accessible to those concerned with them, and enough information is provided to understand and monitor them.

Institutions and processes try to serve all stakeholders.

Consensus orientation
Good governance mediates differing interests to reach a broad consensus on what is in the best interests of the group and, where possible, on policies and procedures.

All men and women have opportunities to improve or maintain their well-being.
Effectiveness and efficiency
Processes and institutions produce results that meet needs while making the best use of resources.

Decision-makers in government, the private sector and civil society organisations are accountable to the public, as well as to institutional stakeholders. This accountability differs depending on the organisations and whether the decision is internal or external to an organisation.

Strategic vision
Leaders and the public have a broad and long-term perspective on good governance and human development, along with a sense of what is needed for such development. There is also an understanding of the historical, cultural and social complexities in which that perspective is grounded.

Post a Comment


  1. Realistic article that reports the current deteriorated situation in the Hadhrami homeland as a result of corruption, collapse of infracture, absence of fundamental civil srvices and dysfunction of active governomental role with no signs to rectify very soon. All they are good at is the poor reactive administration rather than becomoning proctive with no clue to change and act based on delibrated strategic manner.

    You have managed very well, with no prejudice, to present a lot of facts and challenges we terribly still suffer from which reflects the poor quality of life that have been enforced on the Hadhrami citizens nowadays. It is also good that you were able to suggest a tentative remedial plan that needs loyal and honest people to adopt and implement as part of the overall recovery requirements.

    No doubt, the system of governance will not improve unless accountability, credibility and transparency are empowered.

  2. The unfortunate reality of Hadhramout. Rich in oil and gas but very poor and misgoverned at the same.