“It´s is all haram (forbidden)!”, my new very good friend exclaimed with disappointment and threw out his hands, turned his new Mercedes Benz around and returned back to what was not long ago a foul-smelling sewer canal, which is called the silo in local tongue, but now turned into an exiting main road through the city and he continued: “Every good idea to turn things around for the better for everyone in this country is killed by the religious fanatics and called haram!”
Let us call my very new good friend the Self-Made Man. A true description of this fighter in every sense turned into a powerful factor in this great, but complicated country. He was showing me one of his great visions to turn one part of the Old City of Sanaa into a great possibility to draw tourist from all over the world. Which is something the country desperately needs to have a chance to handle the future. My new friend is also a great visionary. He sees the silo, the main street, free of traffic, which is covered on both sides of the great buildings of Old Sanaa, turning into a Yemeni version of both sides of the river Seine in Paris, France. Cafés, an array of entertaining street artists, open door exhibitions, museums, open theaters for opera and local music. And, I fully believe, like him that it would be a great success!
It is early morning in Old Sanaa. Life is slowly starting up, I hear one noisy motor bike only, a car with a silent motor passing with blaring classical music, people walking past with tired steps on the stone layered street below my window, a dog barking in a distance, a neighbor having a shower and the call of the muezzin just finished. I haven´t slept many hours, because I enjoyed the meeting tremendously yesterday and this new friend of mine. Like me, he is a self made man and I do, naturally, prefer self made people far more than that other group of spoiled brats who have made their way up in life. I believe I have met another brother here in the Arab world, just like Talib in Oman. A soul mate. Ever since I had this vision to do this Expedition, the most amazing things have happened and I think this is part of the true Arabian Experience. Amazing things, almost un-explainable, does happen. Some of them almost like it would be a grace of God and like they would already be written in the stars. Another piece of the jigsaw of life falling into place. It happens all the time. My best friend here in Sanaa, Pam, is one of these almost un-explainable meetings. It was one of her friends in the US who knew The Self Made Man. She is also a self made person, a fighter of enormous strength. She has helped me with great energy with the planning of the Expedition.
I feel extraordinary privileged to constantly running into people who understands my vision and want to help. Most of the time, it is pretty much the same type of people. People with a positive attitude who´s lives have been up and down, but everything handledwithout bitterness, hate or negativity. Very positive, energetic people who want to make a difference and understands that big visions makes a difference. Like the Self Made Man. He liked my vision and after having spent an evening together, meeting a lot of powerful Yemenis, we realized that we have the same instincts. And love for Yemen. My friend, The Self Made Man, who you will meet more, in shallah, in my dispatches from Yemen, has really, better than anybody sold me the overwhelmingly positive aspects of Yemen and I will finish this off with him recounting when he came back to the country from abroad a few days ago:
“I returned back in the middle of the night from abroad, not really knowing if it would be good or bad to come back to this disorganized, sometimes hopeless country, but I decided to drive through the Old City. I turned up the the Verdi opera on my CD-player, opened all the windows and slowly passed through the winding and narrow alleys and souks. Suddenly I felt something grip my soul, like a belonging, like a major part of me belonged here, and I realized how privileged I was to almost daily to encounter the spirit of the Old City of Sanaa.”
The Self Made Man could well be the solution to the Yemeni problem. Both to the country and mine. Future will tell.