Category Archives: Sanaa

Yemen’s Akhdam


Luca Nevola has just published an article on the so-called Akhdam in Yemen at Open Democracy. Here is the first paragraph, but click here for the full article.

In 2013, Nu‘man al-Hudheyfi – a man of akhdam origin – participated at the National Dialogue Conference (NDC) held in Sanaa as part of the crisis reconciliation efforts following the 2011 Yemeni Arab Spring. At the time, Hudheyfi was the President of the National Union for the Marginalised and a member of the General People’s Congress, the majority party in the country. In the past, he has defined the ‘marginalised’ as all “those people excluded from property and instruction, forced to live at the margins of society”. But during the conference, his focus was mainly his fellow people, the akhdam, as he condemned the NDC’s racism (‘unsuriyya) by pointing out that Yemen’s three million ‘black people’ had only one representative at the NDC.

Pomegranate seller, Yemen. Rod Waddington/flickr. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Traveling in War-torn Yemen


The traveler Stephen Gollan recently traveled to Yemen, despite the conflict there, and has provided a number of nice photographs about his trip. It is well worth perusing.


Here is how his article starts:

“What brings a traveler to places like this? Is it the desire to be so far from other travelers and achieve an authentic experience, or is it the thrill of stepping into the forbidden and unknown corners of the world?

When it comes to Yemen, I found my attraction drawn from its plethora of historical sights and its splendid natural beauty. But if I am to be one hundred percent honest with you the tremendous lure in coming to conflict areas like Yemen are the people. Yemen’s people are unlike anywhere I have ever been. Their hospitality is contagious, they smile even when there are airstrikes happening blocks away and no matter who you are, or what you believe in, they will be your lifelong friend.

This is what makes all the pain, all the danger, and all of the after effects worthwhile in venturing into finding the truth for yourself. This is Yemen, true Arabia.”


Yemen in 1960

The author, born in 1929.

In 1961 the Yemeni scholar Ahmad Husayn Sharafaddin published a short book in English of about 80 pages entitled Yemen “Arabia Felix.” The book was published in Rome Italy, but distributed from Ta‘izz.  It provides a short summary of Yemen just before the revolution that toppled the Zaydi imamate.


As narrated by the author, the population of Yemen was estimated at 5,834,000 with 4,400,000 in what he called “Free Yemen” (the Mutawakkilite Kingdom) and 1,434,000 in the “Occupied area” under the British. The city of Ṣan‘ā’ was said to have 60,000 residents and Ta‘izz had half that amount.


Most of the book is devoted to the archaeology of the ancient South Arabian kingdoms.


One of the highlights is a pull-out chart of the genealogy of the Zaydi imams.


Of particular interest are the pictures, as noted here.

September 26 Archive


A trove of books in Arabic on Yemeni politics, especially about the 1962 revolution, is available for download online at

Here are the books available on the site:


كنت طبيبة في اليمن
كلودي فايان. تعريب وتقديم: محسن أحمد العيني

الجمهوريه بين السلطنة والقبيلة في اليمن الشمالي
أبو بكر السقاف

زيد مطيع دماج

الطريق إلى الحرية مذكرات
العزي صالح السنيدار

اليمن الجمهوري
عبدالله البردوني

اليمن الجنوبي الحياة السياسية من الاستعمار إلى الوحدة
علي الصراف

اليمن الجنوبي سياسيًا واقتصاديًا واجتماعيًا منذ 1937م وحتى قيام جمهورية اليمن الديمقراطية
محمد عمر الحبشي

اليمن الثورة والحرب حتى عام
إدجار أوبلانس / ترجمة عبدالخالق ﻻشيد

اليمن تحت حكم الإمام أحمد 1948 –
أحمد عبيد بن دغر

مذكرات أحمد محمد نعمان
علي محمد زيد

مذكرات الرئيس القاضي عبد الرحمن بن يحي الإرياني الجزء الثاني
عبد الرحمن بن يحي الإرياني

مغامرات مصري في مجاهل اليمن
مصطفى الشكعة

نظرة في بعض قضايا الثورة اليمنية
محمد علي الشهاري

ثورة اليمن الدستورية
مجموعة من ضباط ثورة

تاريخ اليمن المعاصر
مجموعة من المؤلفون السوفيت. الترجمة: محمد علي البحر

طائر الخراب
حبيب عبدالرب سروري

أيام وذكريات
حسن محمد مكي

يوم ولد اليمن مجده ذكريات عن ثورة 26 سبتمبر 1962
عبد الغني مطهر



AIYS at MESA 2017


At the upcoming annual MESA conference in Washington, D.C., AIYS is sponsoring two panels on Yemen.  The first is a roundtable entitled “Updating the Yemen Crisis” (RS4740 on the program at  Monday, 11/20/17, 3:30pm ). For details on the second panel, click here.

Participants include:

• Nadwa Aldawsari  ((Project on Middle East Democracy)
• H.E. Amat al-Alim Alsoswa  (Former Minister of Human Rights, Yemen)
• Sheila Carapico  (University of Richmond)
• Walid Mahdi (University of Oklahoma)
• Daniel Martin Varisco (President, AIYS)

Here is the abstract of the panel:

Of all the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East, one of the least reported in the media is the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Yemen.  This forum brings together five experts who work on Yemen to discuss the current state of the conflict in Yemen, changes in the shifting alliances and prospects for cessation of hostilities. These experts come from the disciplines of Anthropology, Political Science and American Studies, as well as a former senior Yemeni diplomat. The goal is to provide an update on the current state of the civil strife in Yemen by the time of the annual meeting. The turmoil in Yemen is part of a wider regional struggle that has pitted Sunni vs. Shi’a groups in a political battle for influence and dominance. Following the “Arab Spring” revolution in Yemen that led to the removal of Ali Abdullah Salih after three decades of power, a failed National Dialogue Conference failed to reconcile political differences. The expulsion of interim President Hadi by the Huthi/Salih forces led to a protracted bombing campaign by a Saudi-led coalition after March, 2015. Yemen, unified as a state in 1990, has been split apart by competing sectarian factions, with a Huthi/Salih alliance in the north, anti-Huthi Saudi-backed forces in the south around Aden and cells of Ansar Shariah (al-Qaida) and ISIS in the east.

Despite international efforts brokered by the United Nations to resolve the conflict, there has been no viable resolution to the conflict by the start of 2017.  Many experts consider the conflict an unwinnable war, yet it drags on. The extent of destruction, primarily from the bombing campaign and blockade, has affected the entire population.  Over 10,000 thousand civilians, including many women and children, have been killed, in addition to an unknown number of combatants.  In January, 2017, the UN Humanitarian director of OCHA noted that every ten minutes a Yemeni child died of preventable causes.  Hospitals and clinics, even those maintained by Medecins sans frontieres, have been bombed, as well as many factories, mosques and heritage monuments. Massive unemployment has created a potential pool for the different armed groups fighting each other for power. The roundtable is intended not only to update information on the situation but also to stimulate research by scholars in multiple disciplines on one of the major humanitarian crises in the Middle East.

New Film on Sanaa


The first showing of a documentary film entitled: “Sanaa In the Eyes of Creators” had its premier in Sanaa on Saturday August 19, 2017. The nearly one-hour long film was produced by the Qatar-based filmmaker Dr. Fuad Abdulaziz. In coordination between AIYS and Dr. Abdulaziz, the film premiered at the Yemeni Center for Studies and Researches (YCSR). The limited audience included  Yemen’s great poet and author Dr. Abdulaziz al-Maqalih, a few researchers and a representative of AIYS for watching the film.

Dr. al-Maqalih, far right

This documentary mainly focuses on two main ideas: Sanaa as an ancient city and Sanaa under attack since 2015. In the first part, filmed mainly in 2013 and 2014, the producer highlights Sanaa as an old city that inspires a variety of Yemeni artists. The second part  deals with the impact on Sanaa of the bombing.  The film, as its title bears, is designed to reflect Yemeni artists’ and intellectuals’ views and impressions on the old city of Sanaa. It also shows the old city’s troubles caused by the ongoing civil war and Arab coalition military intervention in the conflict. The film provides an overall picture of the old city created by dozens of shots and quotations, including poetry. The producer devotes major space to the Yemeni artists’ testimonies. A number of prominent creators give their opinions on the old city of Sanaa that inspired their artistic works as created by authors, painters, poets, singers and other artists.

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Yemen Architecture Exhibition


Trevor Marchand has put together an exhibition entitled “Buildings That Fill My Eye” Architectural Heritage of Yemen for the Brunei Gallery at SOAS in London.

The exhibition and its planned public talks and educational events will explore the astonishing variety of building styles and traditions that have evolved over millennia in a region of diverse terrains, extreme climates and distinctive local histories. Generations of highly skilled masons, carpenters and craftspeople have deftly employed the materials-to-hand and indigenous technologies to create urban architectural assemblages, gardens and rural landscapes that dialogue harmoniously with the natural contours and conditions of southern Arabia. In turn, the place-making practices of Yemen’s builders have played a significant role in fostering tight-knit communities with a strong sense of pride and distinct cultural identities.

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