A woman and her daughter arrange branches of khat into small bundles in Mogadishu August 9, 2014. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
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The joking salutation is not for Somalia's president, but hails a national institution nonetheless: white sacks brimming with leafy sprouts of khat, the narcotic chewed across the Horn of Africa and Yemen in a tradition dating back centuries.Grown on plantations in the highlands of Kenya and Ethiopia, tons of khat, or qat, dubbed "the flower of paradise" by its users, are flown daily into Mogadishu airport, to be distributed from there in convoys of lorries to markets across Somalia.Britain, whose large ethnic Somali community sustained a lucrative demand for the leaves, banned khat from July as an illegal drug. This prohibition jolted the khat market, creating a supply glut in Somalia and pushing down prices, to the delight of the many connoisseurs of its amphetamine-like high.
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