Image Credit: Gulf News

Riyadh: A conference of international donors and regional partners of Yemen gathered here on Saturday to find the best ways to disburse aid to the impoverished country, battling terrorism and insurgency, and its effective utilisation.
The two-day conference is also discussing the ways to effectively implement the resolutions of the London donors' conference held last month.

The conference was being held under the shadow of concerns and doubts voiced by major Western donors about the competency of the Yemeni government in proper distribution of the aid for various purposes.

Speaking to Gulf News, a top Yemeni source said that these donor countries have failed to fulfill their aid pledges made at an earlier conference held in London itself in 2006.

"We had received less than 10 per cent of their pledges amounting to a total of $4.7 billion made at the conference," the source said.

Addressing the opening session of the Riyadh Conference, Yemeni Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Abdul Karim Al Arhabi said that the potential economic and security challenges faced by his country during the past years had virtually incapacitated the efforts of the government to create an investment-friendly environment to a great extent.
"Reorganisation of Al Qaida in Yemen after it had suffered a severe blow in the neighbouring Saudi Arabia was the greatest security challenge faced by Sana'a. Another big challenge was the war of Al Houthi rebels that even spilled over to its Saudi borders," the Yemeni source said, adding that these challenges stood in the way of effectively implementing development and welfare projects.
In his speech Al Arhabi urged the donor countries to fulfill their pledges made at the London conference.

"Holding meeting of the joint working group, comprising representatives of donors and Yemen would reflect the spirit of the London conference. Periodic consultation meetings will also help reviewing the progress made in fulfilling the pledges and spending the money in accordance with the specifications made," he said.

Al Arhabi underscored the London initiative of forming a group of Yemeni friends that would support Yemen for strengthening its economy.
The conference is discussing issues related to the reform agenda in Yemen as well as other challenges facing the country.
The Yemen government has presented two detailed reports shedding light on various aspects of the country's economic development and the progress of the reforms being implemented in various spheres.
A special report about the progress of the projects, being implemented with the partnership of GCC General Secretariat and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation, was also presented at Saturday's meeting.
Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Al Attiyah, secretary general of GCC, told reporters that the Riyadh Conference would review the progress achieved in implementing the projects after the London Conference of 2006.
It will examine major handicaps for implementing some of the projects and will come out with remedial measures not to repeat such shortcomings in future.

Delegates attending the conference included senior officials of GCC Development Funds, GCC General Secretariat, Islamic Development Bank, Arab Economic and Social Development Fund, OPEC Development Fund as well as representatives of UN, European Union, US, UK and Japan.
The donors' conference also coincided with the 19th Session of the Saudi-Yemeni Coordination Council that began here on Friday.

Saudi Crown Prince Sultan Bin Abdul Aziz, deputy premier and minister of defence and aviation, and Ali Mohammad Mujawwar would co-chair the three-day meeting, which will witness signing of nine agreements aimed at enhancing bilateral ties.