Breaking Bad in Yemen: Professor dealing drugs to survive
A Yemeni university professor has resorted to selling qat to put food on his family's table, as the country's ongoing conflict further compounds its economic problems.
Sociology and anthropology professor at Sanaa University, Abdallah al-Hakimi, recently admitted to his students on social media that he was now selling the drug, which is illegal in the UK, to feed his family.
Yemen was already the Arab world's poorest country before March last year when a Saudi-led Arab coalition began air raids against Houthi rebels, who had seized much of the country.
"Our savings have run out and the food stocks at home have completely finished. The supermarket next to us no longer lets people run a tab. So I've had to start selling qat so that my children don't go to bed without dinner," Hakimi said.
"Selling qat, albeit dishonourable, does not belittle me or you in any way; it is more honourable than violence and shedding the blood of others," he added, before apologising to his students.
The qat plant, which is extremely popular in Yemen, is commonly chewed to produce a feeling of mild euphoria. In May, authorities in Aden limited the trading in the mild psychotropic drug to two days a week, citing security and social concerns.
|Qat is chewed to produce a feeling of mild euphoria [Getty]|
Local news has also reported that philosophy professor at Sanaa University, Jamil Aoun, has started to work at a brick factory in the capital to make ends meet.
Merchants in Sanaa told The New Arab Yemen correspondent, Farouq al-Kamali, that shops all around the country have seen a significant drop in sales after civil servants received no paychecks in September.
"The delay in payments has forced me to stop selling goods on credit. My shop is now bare of products because I don't have the money to buy new goods," supermarket owner, Mohammad al-Nahari, said.
One in three children in Yemen under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition amid the worsening food crisis and looming famine.
According to UN statistics, 19 out of Yemen's 22 governorates are currently facing severe food insecurity, likely to deteriorate if the conflict persists.
Almost 10,000 people have been killed in the war - more than half of them civilians - while another three million are displaced and millions more need food aid.