Feature: Manufacture of agate struggles in Yemen amid continuing war

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, July 15, 2019
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SANAA, July 14 (Xinhua) -- The manufacture of agate in Yemen is a centuried handicraft which has been inherited from generation to generation.

However, this profession has declined radically because of the war that devastated Yemen's economy and deterred tourists.

Additionally, the costs of extraction and manufacture of agate have doubled, while its export has almost halted because of the blockade imposed on Yemen.

Mujahid al-Ansi, a gemstone expert, craftsman, and trainer in manufacturing agate, said the work on agate in Yemen is no longer feasible.

"The current situation of the war that Yemen goes through has impacted us largely" as turmoil has resulted in the absence of tourism, said al-Ansi, who is based in the capital Sanaa.

The economic deterioration in Yemen means craftsmen's works can not generate profit, he added.

The Yemeni onyx is a kind of gemstone which is dug out from several mountains in the country manually before being made into jewels, rings, belts and chains for ornaments.

Al-Ansi pointed out that Yemen's craftsmen have the ability to turn agate and other gemstones into beautiful forms but the lack of financial resources and modern machines hinder them.

"We need potential marketing and have to keep up with the external and internal markets and regular community and government supports are also requested," he said.

Different types of agate vary in price and quality, depending on the attractiveness of the color which adds value to the gemstones.

Traders and sellers of the Yemeni onyx and gemstones also said the war has a major impact on people who work in manufacturing and trading the agate.

"The Yemeni agate trading fails to be as better as it was in the past because of the complete halt of tourism in the country over the ongoing civil war which stops hosting Arabian and foreign tourists," said Yusuf Qaswan, an agate merchant.

Traders cannot travel to transfer their goods and participate in international exhibitions, he added.

Yemen has been mired into a civil war since late 2014, when Houthi rebels overran much of the country and seized all northern provinces, including Sanaa.

The civil war has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, displaced 3 million others, and pushed the impoverished Arab country to the brink of famine. Enditem

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