Once upon a time, in Yemen

Once upon a time, in the Southern part of Yemen a beer factory used to function. It was the only brewery of the Arabian Peninsula at the beginning of the 1990s. They produced the famous Seera Beer. The local population developed a taste for beers and alcoholic beverages in general, forbidden under the Islamic law during the British occupation. 

In the 1970s there were breweries in Sudan or Pakistan or in Iran, but the end of the 1980s brought a new wave of religious fervour that leaded to the closing of the factories. 

In the case of Yemen, the workers were under pressure for a long time already, but the last brewery manager, the West German Eckhardt Zitzmann, was still optimistic in 1990 that the company will continue to work. He even was sure that the non-alcoholic beverage would diminish some of the opposition against the National Brewing Company. In the then communist South of Yemen, where during the Cold War the Russians sent their ‘specialists’ for various reasons, the vodka was also known, but did not get too much popularity. The production of Seera beer was not only a source of lust – even though the bottles were sold as discretely as possible, including by small openings in the walls that could not be seen easily. The factory was producing around 50,000 Hectolitres pro year, for local consumption and, where possible, export in the area. 

The fact that the company was a big contributor to the local budget – the taxes were extremely high and the price of a bottle was around $3 at the beginning of the 1990s, more than $15 according to the nowadays prices – did not prevent the Army of the North to destroy completely the factory. In 1994, during another stage of the conflict. The bottles were broken and the entire factory was burned to the ground. The West German manager might not have been surprised, as he used to work in the brewery sector in Iran till 1979.Image

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