Yemen’s qat markets flourish despite virus threat

Policemen can be seen on the streets chewing the green plant
Arab News
Saturday, May 2, 2020

yemen khat shopWhile many of the world’s markets have closed to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, downtown districts selling qat — the ubiquitous mild narcotic — still bustle with people. Flouting social distancing rules, Yemenis jostle to select bunches of the chewable leaf from vendors packed into the narrow lanes crowded with stalls. “If the qat markets were closed, believe me when I say that 98 percent of Yemeni people would object,” Sanaa resident and avid consumer Ali Al-Zubeiry told AFP. Many Yemenis resorted to selling qat after the war broke out and their salaries dried up. (See also: Khat traders, farmers take a hit amid coronavirus pandemic)