"The Qat Culture" Top 5 Page for this destination Yemen Local Custom Tip by janiebaxter
Yemen Local Customs: 51 reviews and 71 photos
Qat is an important part of Yemeni culture. As you walk around the suqs and towns you will notice many men with a large bulge in their cheek as they chew their qat and you can’t miss it being sold in the markets or growing on the terraces of the mountains.
It is a stimulant similar to "speed" & opinion is divided as to whether it is harmful or not. In the Hadramaut area qat chewers are viewed with great disapproval but elsewhere it is accepted as part of daily life.
It grows in most areas in Yemen, but grows better in the wetter highland areas and is sold in bundles, wrapped in leaves to keep it fresh, sometimes stored in a canvas bag. The smaller, younger leaves are favoured above the larger ones. After lunch is the time for qat chewing, when it is chewed for 2 to 3 hours with plenty of water to drink. Cost is between $1 and $15 for an afternoon chew depending on quality and it is bought fresh every day.
Qat was discovered by a goat herder about 400 years ago, and now 85% of men and 35% of women in Yemen chew Qat.
My curiosity got the better of me and I found it quite a pleasant experience chewing qat for 3 hours. It certainly makes the mind feel clear and keeps you awake and alert. I think the qat culture can be compared to our British drinking culture to get it into perspective. We view qat with suspicion but the Yemenis would never consider having alcohol.
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