Source: Arab News, By SAEED AL-BATATI, 11/12/2010
SANA'A: The recently concluded 20th Gulf Cup football tournament in the Yemeni coastal city of Aden has brought more than $1 billion in revenues and helped kick-start the economy in the restive south, said Mohammed Omer Bamashmous, head of Aden Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Bamashmous told Arab News in a telephone interview on Thursday this economic benefit was based on the figures of the Ministry of Tourism and the huge number of visitors in Aden.
"We forecasted this great returns when we heard that more that 600,000 sport fans from inside Yemen and the Gulf countries flocked to the city to attend the matches of the tournament. The tourists consumed all commodities on the market; low and high quality honey, Aden incense…etc. The markets were full to the last," he said, adding that many entrepreneurs from the GCC had expressed their interest in investing in industrial and tourism projects in Aden.
"Those businessmen who visited Aden and watched the matches expressed their happiness over the good and safe time they spent during the 15-day tournament. They toured the historical sites of the city and saw by their eyes the investment opportunities in the city".
Bamashmous stated that the head of Aden Free Zone told him that many investors, mostly Saudis, had laid the foundation for $200 million worth of projects during the tournament. "Saudi investors top the list of the foreign investors in Yemen."
According to figures of the Ministry of Interior, 34,000 citizens from the Gulf countries entered Yemen to attend the Gulf Cup which Kuwait won beating Saudi Arabia in the final. Land crossings in Hajjah, Mahra and Hadramout received every day from 2,500 to 3,000 citizens during the tournament days.
Also, Interior Minister Maj.Gen.Mutaher Rashad Al-Masri lauded the success of the security forces in organizing a tournament free from terrorist attacks. In a press conference at the Media Center in Aden, Al-Masri stated that the crime rate during the tournament dropped by 25 percent in Aden.
"Yemen security services were able to stand firmly and competently against all the challenges that they faced in organizing the successful championship and took effective security measures to ensure the functioning of the tournament under the auspices of President Ali Abdullah Saleh," Al-Masri said.
Al-Masri added that the forces that were assigned to secure the tournament were not fully deployed.
"Before the tournament we planned to deploy 30,000 soldiers in the host provinces, but when the security fears were lessened, we only deployed 25,000 army and police personnel. Many security blocks were created around Aden and Abyan provinces supported by special explosives detection squads. This proves that this great country has achieved significant progress in the areas of security, tourism and economy."