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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

Yemen's new prime minister brings hope to economic crisis

Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed is seen as a technocrat with vision of strong leadership

Yemen's Prime Minister, Moeen Abdul Malik. WAM
Yemen's Prime Minister, Moeen Abdul Malik. WAM

The appointment of Maeen Abdulmalik Saeed as the new prime minister of Yemen has been largely welcomed by many Yemenis who hope that a competent young technocrat with vision might be up to the challenge of revitalising a collapsing economy while the conflict-wracked state teeters on the brink of famine.

Dr Saaed was appointed to replace Ahmed bin Dagher, who was fired by Yemen’s President Abdrabu Mansur Hadi on Monday.

Dr Saaed, who is 37, said he hoped he was ready to tackle the task ahead. "I would like to thank the President of the Republic for entrusting and appointing me as Prime Minister at this delicate period when Yemenis are fighting to end the coup, preserve the republic, and to build institutions of a federal state," he wrote on Twitter.

Previously serving as the minister of public works and roads, Dr Saaed originally comes from the northern province of Taez.

He holds a PhD in the philosophy of architecture from Cairo University and continues to work for a Cairo-based consultancy firm.

Before serving as a minister, Dr Saeed was an assistant professor in the Engineering Faculty at Thamar University in Dhamar, Yemen.

Involved in politics from a young age, Dr Saeed participated in the National Dialogue Conference on Independent Youth that was held in the capital Sanaa in 2013. The conference aimed to draft a new constitution and to prepare the country for elections in 2014. He also played a vital role in developing an Independent Youth Vision for Yemen for 2030.

He recently participated in UN-led peace talks in the Swiss city of Biel and in Kuwait.

His appointment was greeted with enthusiasm by some Yemenis who also noted the monumental difficulties facing the government.

"The new prime minister can be seen as a technocrat with a vision of leadership and management, but he will face many challenges," Yemen's former human rights minister, Hooria Mashhour, told The National.

"He will have to deal with issues such as corruption, which is needed to be addressed by the entire government and not just the prime minister's office," Mrs Mashhour said, adding that security, relief and economic recovery will need to be top of his priorities.

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For the first time in the history of modern Yemen, a young man has been appointed to the position, Yemen's deputy permanent representative to the UN, Marwan Ali Noman, told The National.

"This is a sincere step by the president to give Yemen's youth the opportunity they deserve to shape the future of their country," Mr Noman said, who worked together with Mr Saeed during the Kuwait consultations.

"As a technocrat specialising in engineering and construction, this will enable Dr Maeen to focus on development and reconstruction projects that Yemen needs more than ever," Mr Noman said.

Nadwa Dawsari, Yemen researcher and non-resident senior fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy, said his appointment was “great news”.

“He has a difficult task ahead but I hope he will get the support he needs from coalition and international community,” she wrote on Twitter.

The UN Envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, welcomed the appointment of Mr Saeed and described him as "a high calibre public figure known for his professionalism".

Mr Griffiths said in a statement that he "looks forward to working closely with the new prime minister and to deal with Yemen's critical economic situation and to boost the political process.”

Yemeni political sources said that Dr Seed has "excellent" relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates – Riyadh's main partner in the military coalition fighting in Yemen.

Others were less optimistic that his appointment would bring change. “Sacking bin Dagher was a good step but it doesn't mean anything because the government still holds the same faces, so what is the use of changing the top while the base is still the same,” Yaser Al Yafaee a Yemeni journalist and political analyst told The National.

With additional reporting from Ali Mahhmood in Aden