RICK ABDULLA, OUR PERSONAL ‘AMBASSADOR’ TO YEMEN
Unforeseen and apparently insurmountable paperwork snags prevented the Visionalist crew from completing our planned trip to Yemen in September. For an overview of this ancient and vital country, we’ll have to rely on the next best thing: Rick Abdulla.
Rick, who came to United States from a village near Taiz, Yemen, credits both his father and his grandparents from providing a foundation for his own considerable success in the United States. The owner of three successful service stations throughout metro Detroit, Abdulla’s frequent returns to the land of his birth is a lesson in how things might have been had his forebears not displayed the courage to immigrate. “I can see myself like so many of my contemporaries in Yemen—I might be looking for work, and at the least, living in some kind of poverty.”
Though personal poverty is a long way behind him, Abdulla displays characteristic Middle Eastern generosity and homage-paying by helping relatives back in Yemen when necessary. It’s a financial bridge between Old World and New that has existed since the first immigrants stepped off the boats in the Seventeenth Century, and is a true sign of character. Abdulla acknowledges that his comfortable life here in Michigan would not have been possible without sacrifices made in years past. His grandfather, Mahyoub Mihtar, was the first of the group to come to the United States; in 1953, Mihtar went to work at Ford Motor Company and gradually brought his extended family here. Rick’s father was a thirty year employee of the Michigan Inn, instilling in his sons the strong work ethic which is at the core of his current success. Still, Rick maintains, he is imbued with an undeniably emotional attachment to the land of his birth.
“When I step off the plane in Yemen, I am overwhelmed with a feeling of connection. I love America and wouldn’t live anywhere else, but I was born in Yemen and these will always be ‘my people.’