Category Archives: Music and Dance

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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New film on Yemeni Music


Chers collègues et amis,

J’ai le plaisir de vous signaler la sortie récente du DVD “L’heure de Salomon”, film réalisé par Pascal Privet, et pour lequel j’ai assuré la traduction intégrale des textes chantés. Le film contient deux heures de musique, dans des cérémonies de mariage comme dans des salons de Sanaa :

En espérant que ce travail permettra de conserver une partie de la mémoire de ce pays et de ce peuple martyrisés,

Bien amicalement,

Jean Lambert

Jean Lambert on Yemeni Music


La musique traditionnelle yéménite menacée par les bombardements

Un chef-d’œuvre du patrimoine oral de l’humanité

Depuis trente ans, Jean Lambert mène des recherches sur les sociétés et les musiques de tradition orale dans plusieurs pays du monde arabe. Mais c’est sans nul doute au Yémen que ce travail a été le plus marquant, avec des années passées sur le terrain. C’est dans ce berceau originel de la civilisation arabe, à la richesse culturelle sans égal chez ses voisins de la péninsule Arabique, qu’il est passé de l’anthropologie et de la musicologie à l’ethnomusicologie. «  J’y ai trouvé une chaleur, une sensualité et une sagesse qui, certainement, m’avaient manqué. Sans doute est-ce la raison pour laquelle j’ai fait le choix de la fidélité et d’une certaine persévérance dans mes objets de recherches qui, en retour, n’ont cessé de m’enrichir  ». Chaleur, sensualité, sagesse, autant de mots étonnants pour définir un pays trop souvent connu à travers les seules images réductrices que véhicule une actualité politique déformée par des médias avides de sensationnel et de clichés surfant sur les peurs.

Continue reading Jean Lambert on Yemeni Music

Safeguarding Yemen’s Cultural Heritage


Here is my personal blog post on MENA Tidningen regarding the UNESCO meeting I attended a few days ago in Paris.  AIYS was well represented at the meeting.  I gave an introductory talk on Yemen’s history and culture the first day, followed by presentations on Yemen’s intangible and movable cultural heritage by AIYS associate and anthropologist Najwa Adra, ethnomusicologists Jean Lambert and Scheherazade Hassan, Anne Regourd (University of Copenhagen), Leila Aliaquil (jewelry expert), Alessandra Avanzini (University of Pisa) and St. John Simpson (British Museum).  Speaking on Yemen’s archaeology were Iris Gerlach (DAI), Alexander Sedov (National Museum of Oriental Art, Russia), Sabina Antonini (Association Monumenta Orientalia), Michel Mouton (CEFAS), Zayd Zaydoon (AFSM) and Jean-François Breton.  Yemen’s architecture and built heritage were discussed by Renzo Ravagnan and Massimo Khairallah (Instituto Veneto del Restauro), Omar Abdulaziz Hallaj (GIZ), Marylene Barret (Conservator) and Cristina Iamandi (architect and urban planner).

The meeting was opened and closed by H.E. Ambassador Ahmed Sayyad, Ambassador of Yemen to UNESCO.  It was fortunate that Mohanad Ahmed Al Syani (Chairman of GOAMM) and Nagi Saleh (Chairman of GOPHCY) were able to make the arduous journey from war-torn Yemen to Paris and brief the delegates on the current damage to Yemen’s heritage and future needs for restoration.

Youthful Art in Yemen

A boy rides past a graffiti on his bicycle in Sanaa

Larissa Alles has published “Voicing Grievances and Hope through Art: Yemen’s Youth Empower Themselves” in Ethnopolitics Papers, Vol. 5.  It can be downloaded here.  The abstract is attached below:

With a reputation for terrorism and state failure, for many Yemen is not the first place that comes to mind when speaking about a new art scene in the Middle East. Yet, in the course of the Arab uprisings, Yemen’s youth used various forms of art as a medium to voice their demands and spread messages of resilience and peace. Carving out a new space in civil society, they continue to lobby for peaceful coexistence at times of violent elite struggles and political bargaining that does not accommodate the ordinary Yemenis’ needs or the 2011 youth protesters’ demands. Although quietly, this counter-movement takes on various forms, ranging from music and theatre to photography, filming and graffiti. A key aspect in most of these zero-budget projects is the participation of the ordinary population. Murad Subay’s much-respected graffiti campaigns turned the capital Sana‘a into an open-air studio for many who might not have touched a brush or spray can ever before, but discovered the powerful voice of art as a means to express both discontent with the current situation in Yemen and hopes for the future. The media collective #SupportYemen gives a voice to neglected issues through their videos that are available to everybody inside and outside the country. Yemen’s very own TEDx events give a platform for artists to present their work and activists to spread the messages of their campaigns. This paper sheds light on these three cases of a new civic entrepreneurship in Yemen and demonstrates the inclusiveness of their working mechanisms and the emanation their work has in the country and abroad.