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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Saudi fuel aid to Yemen seeks to help power country and lift civilians out of hunger

First batch of fuel aid worth $60 million marks the latest economic assistance offered by the kingdom to the war-torn country

Saudi soldiers walk by oil tanker trucks delivered by Saudi authorities to support charities and NGOs in Marib, Yemen. Reuters 
Saudi soldiers walk by oil tanker trucks delivered by Saudi authorities to support charities and NGOs in Marib, Yemen. Reuters 

The arrival of a Saudi oil tanker in Yemen carrying petroleum products will help power electricity stations and ease civilian suffering, the Yemeni Deputy Minister of Electricity and Energy told The National.

The first batch of fuel aid worth $60 million arrived in Aden on Monday, marking the latest economic assistance offered by the kingdom to the war-torn country.

"After receiving the first batch of the Saudi oil derivatives, the electrical power — especially in Aden — will be operating without any cuts," deputy minister Mubarak Al Tamimi said. "Similarly, the other liberated provinces will experience a big hike in the power generating."

The assistance is part of a programme led by Saudi Arabia to reconstruct Yemen's infrastructure and support the local currency, which has lost more than two thirds of its value against the dollar since the war began in 2015.

According to deputy minister, the petroleum products will be distributed fairly and transparently throughout the country's liberated provinces.

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"We have set up a control room comprised of members from the Aden oil refinery, the Yemeni oil company and the ministry of electricity and energy," said Mr Al Tamimi. "They will be responsible for distributing the oil shipments to the power stations in the provinces according to the needs and by trucks electronically monitored through the GPS which will ensure transparent distribution."

In addition, said Mr Al Tamimi, the Yemeni government is moving towards building natural gas power plants to replace more expensive fossil fuels, such as coal.

The UAE "granted us a power station operated by gas, which is supposed to generate 120 Megawatts", said Mr Al Tamimi. "The equipment arrived in Aden two months ago and the bases of the station have been constructed so far in the area of Al Hiswa. Additionally, the government has contracted an American company to construct a new power station operates by gas, this station is supposed to generate 264MW."

Yemen's central bank governor Mohamed Zemam said the monthly aid will help the struggling government divert an average of $50m per month that it currently spends on electricity to sectors such as health care and education, Agence France-Presse reported.

The assistance comes after Saudi Arabia deposited $200m in Yemen's central bank this month to help stem a slide in the rial.

The Arab coalition, which has been supporting the Yemeni government in its fight against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels, had already deposited $2 billion in the central bank in January to support the Yemeni currency.

Some residents of Yafea, Radfan and Al Dhalea say they have already experienced a decrease in power shortages — a welcome break from the frequent power cuts.

"We felt a big jump in the power supply as the first batch of the Saudi oil derivatives just arrived, the electricity just came back to light our houses in the rural areas in Al Dhalea, this gave us a spot of hope for a better future," said Fadel Al Amel, a resident in Al Azariq in the province of Al Dhalea.