Minibus Driver Who Used to Run Biggest Newspaper Distribution House. Ali Ghailan: Another Picture of Yemeni Suffering from this War


Like all Yemenis, without exception, this horrific war has brought immense suffering and destruction over the course of the last two years since March 2016, when this war started, to the course of the lives of all Yemenis, and Ali Ghailan is no exception to the suffering and untold losses they must face as their lives take on a detour brought on by a war with unpredictable circumstances and an unforecastable finale.

By Ahmed Al-Aghbari – The Yemeni American News

Yet despite its high humanitarian toll, the War in Yemen continues to be totally ignored despite the suffering of the total population of nearly 30 million in one way or another, not to mention bordering on starvation in the most remote areas of the country.  As if Yemen was not to be accorded any human rights or even concerns by the international community.   The question that must arise, notwithstanding the political ramifications of the conflict, is “Do the poorest people of the region deserve to live under threat of daily air bombardment, or exchange of artillery shelling by local combatants, all of whom purportedly claim to fight for the freedom and liberty of their countrymen?”

The story of Ali Ghailan is one of a thousand and ones tales of dreams lost or destroyed in all walks of life.  From the fruit producer of Sa’ada to the Mango and banana producers of Tihama and Lahj, to the water bottlers of Hajjah, to the dairy manufacturers of Hodeida.  So many tales of fortunes burned up by the screeching missiles of F15S or maneuvering Tomahawks launched from offshore destroyers, none of which were ever challenged by any weaponry from Mainland Yemen, let alone sea war vessels  belonging to Yemen, all of which have been put out of commission.

13,000 civilian fatalities, including 25% of whom are children tell a tale of disproportionate balance of power between the sides of this lopsided war, in which the victim is forced by international injustice to succumb to the reality that indeed we live in a cruel world, given all the rights and wrongs one might wish to align their views with.

Many of Yemeni family and individual entrepreneurial projects inside of Yemen have all either evaporated like the dreams of their owners.  For many the losses were formidable and irrecoverable.

Ali Ghailan’s family was one of these families whose Al-Arabiah House for Journalistic Distribution, which used to be one of the largest of such distributors prior to the war.

Although more than a year has passed since Ali Ghailan was forced into a new life imposed on him by this dreaded war, 42 year Ali Ghailan Mohammed has yet to be able to comprehend and absorb what has transpired to him – and to hundreds like him throughout Yemen – and his family and all the suffering they now must endure.

After many years of generally prosperous economic conditions, which their marketing journalistic enterprise enjoyed prior to the commencement of this War.  During this fruitful period for the family, they have enjoyed near monopolistic control of their trade, which provided them with a healthy income as they were distributors for most of the local and foreign newspapers, journals, magazines etc coming into Yemen prior to the commencement of this war.  The war brought with it a tight siege that prevented anything entering or leaving the country.  Since the war began, all publication of local newspapers and magazines also stopped. The means of livelihood for the five divisions of the Ghailan Family was brought to a full standstill.  The five Ghailan Brothers had a dependency of 35 members.    All the family was involved in the distribution of newspapers and journals, which provided them with a comfortable living.  Now all eking out a living of barely surviving amidst tough economic conditions faced by the entire nation.

Notwithstanding the hopes of the whole family that a secession of hostilities could return their former way of life, however that hope seems to diminish as the war enters its third year, without any showing any hope for a respite soon.

After eating up their savings with this diminishing hope, the Ghailan family must come to terms with the reality that they must adapt to keep their families afloat.

In addition the Ghailan family was unable to collect their outstanding receivables and credits to customers and even friends.

In addition the Ghailan Family was not spared the targeting by the air raids that hit many people in the most of the neighborhoods of Sana’a and all the major cities of Yemen.

Ali Ghailan sums up their plight with these tragic words:

“We have had to face immediate losses exceeding YR 10 million.  They also had lost deposits of foreign currency with suppliers of some of their foreign journals.”

Ali Ghailan, continued:  “I went and bought a minibus by which I transport students to school.  My brothers then divided the cars we used to distribute journals with and worked in them from selling cold water and providing other quick services to people, while the children of the family went on to sell ice cream in mini ice boxes driven by bicycles.

Ali Ghailan went on to recall how his dream vanished into thin air as he returned from a trip of transporting students to school:  “It just never dawned upon me that I would have to drive a minibus just to survive after having to live lavishly in the past.

“Imagine.  I used to mainly manage the movement of the newspapers and magazines and the collection of our dues from the various newspaper stands or bookstores?”  I was living a life of leisure and the rest of the family were each doing their job without difficulty.

What will the future bring?

Ali Ghailan responded with a symbolic question mark written by his hand in the air with an emphasis on the dot.