Yemen at the Crossroads

2011/02/13 § Leave a comment

Women Gathering Clover, Shibam, Wadi Hadhramaut, Yemen 


Strategically located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia,  ancient Yemen became wealthy from the spice trade.  It was so rich the Romans called the land Arabia Felix, Happy Arabia.  Augustus Ceasar tried, but failed, to annex it.  Today it is the poorest country in the Arab world. 








Chronic unemployment, dwindling oil and water supplies, high illiteracy rates, government corruption, and a feuding tribal culture, have created fertile ground for a growing Al-Qaeda presence.





 Sana’a, a living museum,  was declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations in 1986.  There are efforts  to preserve some of the oldest buildings, which are over 1000 years old, but many think that it is too little too late.



Sana’a is a must, however long it takes to get there – Yemeni Proverb







In January and February, 2011, thousands of Yemenis marched to demand a change in government.  The president who has been in power for decades pledged not to run again when his term runs out in 2013.   With 40% unemployment, malnutrition, and rising food prices, it is difficult to see how he can keep the reins of power without major concessions. 



Women queue up to vote in parliamentary elections




In Yemen’s weapon’s culture, it is estimated that there are at least three firearms for each person. 



 Known as “jambiya”,  ornamental knives are an important fashion accessory for Yemeni men.   







The tradition of reciting poetry represents a rich cultural heritage in Yemen.  Oral poetry has offers a socially acceptable way for men and women to solve problems, manage conflicts, and communicate feelings of sorrow, happiness, and worry, according to Najwa Adra, a New York-based anthropologist.




Some poets in Yemen are using poetry to battle extremism.


O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don’t be infamous among the nations

-Amin al-Mashreqi


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