Chapter 12: Making a Difference in a Troubled Country: The Case of Entrepreneurial and Female Leadership in Yemen
Nabil Sultan INTRODUCTION The modern history of Yemen is a complex and troubled one. The twentieth century witnessed the withdrawal of colonial powers, foreign-backed war and financial dependency; Yemen was a Cold War battleground and went through reunification and civil war. At the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century, Yemen has been described as a ‘failing state’ (Barron 2008; Colton 2010) with a severely damaged economy, resentment of the ruling Northern powers and sections of the country in open armed revolt. Yemen has both the largest and poorest population on the Arabian peninsula, with over 20 million people in an area similar to that of Ireland (MEDEA 2008), among whom the unemployment rate is estimated to be as high as 40 per cent (Colton 2010). Yet this is the region of Arabia known to Ptolemy as Eudaimon Arabia – Fortunate Arabia, a term adopted by the Romans as Arabia Felix; Herodotus described the region as ‘. . .scented with [the spices of Arabia], and exhales an odor marvellously sweet’ (in Ovendale 1998; see also Halliday 2007). This fanciful description reflects the importance of Yemen at that time in the trade in incense and spices. The Incense Route along the Western part of the Arab peninsula was the predecessor of the Indian Spice Route (Artzy 1994), and the origin of much of the frankincense, one of the most important and valuable items of trade, was Wadi Hadramaut in what is now the eastern part of Yemen (Shackley 2002). This ancient wealth...
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