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Witness
Qat Barons of Sheffield
An ancient Yemeni tradition is maintained in the unlikely place of north England.
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2009 10:21 GMT



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Director: Amani Zain

Sheffield, the south borough of Yorkshire is famous for steel and coalmining. In the 1950's and 60's thousands of Yemeni's migrated to Sheffield to find work. They now make up a large part of the community there. 

But in a land so far away from home, they have maintained an old tradition to bring them back to their roots … chewing qat.

Qat is a leafy narcotic that contains cathinone, a natural amphetamine which is banned in some countries like the United States. Luckily for Britain's Yemenis, qat is legal in the UK. Chewing qat is one of their favorite ways to relax, socialize and enjoy their cultural heritage.

It is estimated that 90% of Yemeni men chew qat. Some claim a qat session is like a game of golf, a time when contacts are made and business deals sealed.

Yemeni-born f
ilmmaker Amani Zain went to Sheffield to find out more about this ancient tradition. She gained exclusive access to a men's only social club where chewing qat is the main attraction.

She listened as they spoke about the joys of chewing and socialising with their friends. But she discovered elsewhere that not everyone in the Yemeni community agrees that this ancient custom is a good thing.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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