Yemen's Qat Chewing Culture
Qat is a leafy shrub containing an amphetamine compound that when chewed creates a mild buzz somewhere between caffeine and cocaine. The leaves are chewed and stored in the cheek where they break down in the saliva and the juices eventually enter the bloodstream. Chewing Qat, has been around for hundreds of years in the impoverished nation of Yemen, where it is estimated that 70% of men, and about one in four women, habitually chew the plant daily. Although Qat chewing is a cultural trait, its detractors accuse the plant of slowly destroying the country: Nearly half of Yemen's population under the poverty line, spend far too much on Qat and for a country fast drying out, its cultivation consumes about 30% of the available water resources.