Yeman and the qat trade (article)

The English edition of Le Monde diplomatique, December 2009, includes an article, "Yeman's Afternoon High."  For the article, see here.  The author, Roger Gaess, also took photographs published as a gallery in the same publication, January 2010. For the pictures, see here.

Posted by David Fahey on January 24, 2010 at 08:58 AM in Khat, Yemen | Permalink

Chewing the narcotic khat leaf: should Americans think of it as like coffee or cocaine?

Khat is chewed legally as a social tonic and stimulant in the Horn of Africa and parts of the Middle East, but it is illegal in the USA.  In America khat users are members of the Ethiopian, Somalian, and Yemen immigrant communities.  Although it is unlikely that other Americans are likely to chew khat, it is possible that they may eventually use it in other forms.  For instance, young Israelis who frequent clubs have begun to experiment with a pill known as "hagiagat," a Hebrew word that may be translated as "party khat." A Somali immigrant, Starlin Mohamud, is writing a dissertation on khat at San Diego State University. Apparently it focuses on social problems associated with khat use among immigrant groups in the USA. For more, see here.

Posted by David Fahey on January 3, 2009 at 09:38 AM in Ethiopia, Khat, Somalia, United States, Yemen | Permalink

Islamists threaten Yemeni Jews for selling wine

Nearly a quarter of Yemen's Jews have fled their village and sought refuge at a hotel in the Arab country after militant Islamists threatened to kill them for selling alcohol, a government official said on Monday.

Reuters reports.

Posted by Cynthia on January 31, 2007 at 09:45 AM in Israel, Religion, Wine, Yemen | Permalink

Musical View of Yemeni Social Life (article)

Schuyler, Philip D. “Qat, Conversation, and Song: A Musical View of Yemeni Social Life.” Yearbook for Traditional Music 29 (1997), 57-73. [On drinking in Yemen.]

Posted by Jon on July 13, 2006 at 06:50 AM in Alcohol (general), Qat, Yemen | Permalink

Chew on this

Every couple of days London’s Heathrow Airport receives a strange cargo. Bundles and bundles of shrub wrapped in banana leaves arriving on planes from Yemen and East Africa. This is qat - a mild narcotic, which after years of wrangling, is still legal in the UK.

The Yemen Times reports.

Posted by Cynthia on March 7, 2006 at 02:32 PM in Africa, Britain, Qat, Yemen | Permalink

Saudi ambassador serves alcohol

The Ambassador to Saudi Arabia in Ankara, El Husseini broke with the Islamic laws of his country and served his guests alcoholic beverages. Alcoholic drinks were served at a welcome dinner held by El Husseini and his wife (who does not wear a headscarf), for the new arrival of the ambassadors of Yemen, Qatar, Algeria and Palestine in Ankara. In yet another break with the Saudi Islamic tradition, men and women sat and dined together.

Read more.

Posted by Cynthia on February 19, 2006 at 02:14 PM in Alcohol (general), Algeria, Jordan, Palestine, Qatar, Religion, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Yemen | Permalink

Beer and wine in Yemen

During the British Occupation in the southern part of Yemen, beer, wine, and other liquors, gained fame and spread like never before.

Twelve years ago, however, the National Brewing Company, or the Seera beer factory, the first and only beer factory in Yemen, was burned to the ground by northern troops during the North-South civil car. Every bottle of beer was broken.  Tough measures were taken to ensure that alcohol would never play a role in the country’s future.

As luck would have it, though, things didn't exactly work out that way.

Read more.

Posted by Cynthia on January 24, 2006 at 12:37 PM in Alcohol (general), Beer, Brewing , Wine, Yemen | Permalink

Khat and Yemen

Dr. Wijdan Luqman, as a contribution to Yemeni Issues on the Net, allows them to reprint his 1976 article on Khat use in Yemen. Abstract in extended copy.

From The use of Khat.

The Use of Khat (Catha edulis) in Yemen Social and Medical Observations

WIJDAN LUQMAN, B.Sc., M.B.Ch.B. (Edin); and T. S. DANOWSKI, M.D., F.A.C.P.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Catha edulis, or khat, a plant indigenous to Yemen, Ethiopia, and East Africa, has sympathomimetic and euphoriant effects. Its role in the economic, social, and political lives of people in North and South Yemen and certain clinical and psychiatric aspects are discussed.

Among other things, the article describes Khat gatherings:

Khat Gatherings

Yemenite homes are constructed to provide a warm reception room for khat chewing. In keeping with the total segregation of the sexes at social functions, women are excluded. However, women do hold their own khat sessions, but they are much less frequent. At either event, the guests are distributed in accord with their familial, social, or political importance and prestige. Drafts interfere with comfort at a khat gathering, and hence the choice places are those farthest removed from the doors and windows.

The chewers lean against three or four specially made large and hard pillows. Each side of the room accommodates six to 10 persons, and occasionally up to 20. One or two communal tobacco pipes or "hubble-bubbles" stand in the center. Each consists of a tobacco bowl, a 3- or 4-foot high metal pipe, a water filter, and a 20-foot long flexible tube. The tobacco is ignited with a layer of charcoal, and the flexible tube is passed from guest to guest. Each must limit himself to a few puffs because excesses produce dizziness, tremulousness, palpitations, and severe nausea.

During such khat sessions, drinks are available, that is, cola, weak black tea, or just cold water.


Urban khat sessions usually begin soon after lunch. The chewers prefer fresh leaves, and they are therefore purchased just before or after lunch. Purchase of the leaf matches the acumen of the habitual chewer against the seller's attempts to peddle yesterday's leaf. The expert khat buyer first shakes and smells the sui)t)ly because fresh leaves do not fall off and have a characteristic odor. Arguments about price may involve shouting and pushing, but violence is rare. Once the khat has been acquired, the customer leaves with a smile of satisfaction and anticipation.

The chewing session starts with slightly euphoric behavior and a friendly sense of humor. The leaves are plucked off the twigs, chewed, and stored against one or the other cheek. The mixture of saliva and extract from the leaves is swallowed. As new leaves are taken, the cheek bulges out. The euphoric effects appear shortly after the chewing begins, suggesting absorption through the oral mucosa. The session and the friendly atmosphere last about 2 h. These are followed by a mood of zeal that lasts another 2 h, and during this interval current subjects and problems are discussed. This in turn is supplanted by a serious mood and may be accompanied by irritability.


In the country the chewing of khat starts earlier, that is, soon after breakfast, and continues throughout the day. Even the children chew khat. The stimulant effect lightens the daily tasks. In such regions, food, education, medicine, and recreation are lacking. The anorexiant effect of khat decreases the need for the midday meal or even the evening meal and assumes a major role in day-to-day living.

See the full text (above link) for much more. The article is ambiguously cited on that page, but appears to have originally appeared as Annals of Internal Medicine 85:246-249.

Posted by Jon on January 30, 2005 at 09:45 AM in Khat, Yemen | Permalink | Comments (0)