Chairman's Report 1994

Second Annual General Meeting, November 1994.

It has been a tragic year for the Yemen. The breakdown of political dialogue, followed by the outbreak of fighting, had a catastrophic effect on the economy of the country and caused much damage to its infrastructure, particularly in Aden. With the cessation of fighting in the middle of the summer, the situation is slowly getting back to normal. Water and power have been restored to Aden and most of the oil companies, which had withdrawn during the fighting, are now back. However, much bitterness remains and the Government has a difficult task to erase the memories of the summer and to reinvigorate the economy. In Britain the troubles have caused difficulties within some of the Yemeni communities which, I hope, your Society may be of some help in solving.

The Society has had a mixed year. Its six lecture programme went very well and all the lectures were well attended. I am grateful to our lecturers who give up so much of their time. I hope that this six lecture per annum programme will continue.

The Society is now a registered charity and I am most grateful to Michael Carey and Cliff Leslie, our Honorary Treasurer, for guiding the committee through the complicated ritual of registration. You will in due course be invited to renew your subscription by deed of covenant which will enable the Society to reclaim tax on each subscription.

The major event of 1994 should have been the Musical Tour of the group of Yemeni singers, dancers and musicians chosen by the Yemeni Ministry of Culture. Sadly this was a casualty of the troubles, but not before a considerable amount of energy had been expended in organising it. I must therefore record my thanks to the committee members, the Museum of Mankind, the Arab Club and the officers of the Yemeni communities in London, Cardiff, Birmingham, Manchester and Sheffield for all their hard work. The tour was to have been sponsored by Visiting Arts, Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust, the Embassy of the Republic of Yemen, B.P. Exploration, Clyde Petroleum, Nimir Services Ltd and Thabet International to whom we are most grateful. I hope that it may be possible to organise a similar tour at a later date.

The Society also arranged, at short notice, a reception for H.E. the Yemeni Minister for Energy and Petroleum Affairs, Salih Abubakr bin Husainun at the Travellers’ Club. It is sad to record that the Minister was killed shortly afterwards in the troubles.

It is sad also to report that Dr Shaya Mohsin has left his post as the Yemeni ambassador in London. As our Honorary co-President, Dr Shaya gave a great deal of help and encouragement to your Society in its early days and we will miss his wise advice. We look forward to welcoming the new ambassador.

The Yemeni community in Cardiff held a very successful Yemeni week in May, towards the cost of which your Society made a small contribution. Details of it are included elsewhere in the Journal.

Dr Lawless, who has just retired from Durham University, is publishing a book entitled "From Taiz to Tyneside". Your Society, along with others, is helping to fund the cost of publication of this important historical record of Yemeni migration to Britain.

I hope that 1995 will be a more successful year both for the Republic of Yemen and for your Society. I use the term your Society pointedly. The turnout at the A.G.M. was disappointing and the lack of complaints and suggestions could encourage a sense of complacency in your committee which I am sure you would not wish! Please let us have suggestions on future activities, comments on the format and content of this magazine and any ideas you may have on how the Society can better fulfil its role.

William (Bill) D Heber Percy

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