Dubai, (Reuters) – Gulf Arab investors should protect their investments in Yemen because of political instability there, a Gulf Co-operation Council official was quoted as saying on Sunday.
Protests in the capital Sanaa, which followed riots that toppled Tunisia’s leader and mass rallies in Egypt, are a concern to investors from the oil-exporting Gulf Arab region.
“The businessmen need to protect their investments in Yemen, the majority of them is in the agriculture and real estate sectors,” Abdulaziz al-Awish, general director of economic and international relations at the Gulf Co-operation Council, told the Asharq al-Awsat daily newspaper.
Yemen’s opposition drew more than 20,000 people in Sanaa on Thursday, the biggest crowd since a wave of anti-government demonstrations hit the poor Arabian Peninsula state two weeks ago.
The tourism, agriculture and industry sectors have been key investment targets in the country, which is struggling against entrenched poverty, as well as an al Qaeda insurgency and southern separatism. It is also trying to cement peace with Shi’ite rebels in the north.
Direct investment in the world’s poorest Arab country dropped to $1.7 billion in 2009, while outflows reached $1.5 billion, central bank data show.
In the first six months of 2010, Yemen’s investment authority licensed 113 projects worth 31.9 billion rials ($148.7 million).
Yemen has secured $370 million in funding from the International Monetary Fund over the next three years to help its economy, which is facing declining oil production and widespread unemployment estimated at about 35 percent.