December 2015 - Seminar at AIYS on Funded Research


A seminar was held in the AIYS building on Wednesday December 23, 2015 in which three researchers who won 2015 fellowships grant made a presentation about the topics of their researches. A number of academics and researchers attended the seminar. Dr Salwa Dammaj opened the function with a short word in which she introduced the researchers. The three researchers are: Dr Ganya Al-Naqeep, professor at Sana'a University, Faculty of Agriculture. Dr Jamia Al-Rajwaee, a lecturer at Arhab College and Dr Nadia Al-Kawkabany, professor of Architecture at Sana'a university. Each researcher briefed the audience on the content of her research and the results she came up with.

Dr Ghanya Al-Naqep commenced with her presentation, briefing the audience on her research entitled:  "The preventive effect of some Yemeni plants in obesity and diabetes."  She explained her research objective, methodology, results and recommendations.  She illustrated the experiment materials, tools steps and the concluded results. She studied the potential preventive effect of an indigenous herb (ensif) on obesity, which is one of the main reasons for diabetes and other diseases. The distinguished researcher suggested positive primary outcomes and recommended that further studies are needed to reach conclusive results. She  deeply appreciated the AIYS assistance, describing it as vitally important for Yemeni researchers, particularly during such hard times.

Then, Dr Gamilah Al-Ragwi talked about her research themed "Yemeni Students Movement and its Role in Politics." The academic scholar made a brief presentation in which she outlined her researching methodology, obstacles and conclusion. She focused her study on the Yemeni students movement abroad from 1940s until the Yemeni revolution in 1962.

Dr Nadiah Al-Kawkabany's research was entitled: "Sana'a Residential Buildings in Light of the 2011 Uprising: Envisaging Outlook of the Visual Dimensions Configuration". She devoted her presentation to highlight the irresponsible changes that have been taking place in the construction industry since 2011. The scholar argued that the 2011 popular uprising has further increased the absence of the law-enforcing authorities.

At the end of the seminar, Dr Salwa handed over the researchers the 20% remaining payment of the fellowship grant by the AIYS.


November 2014 - Launch of Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Eryani Scholarship Fund


AIYS Resident Director Salwa Dammaj met with Dr. Abdulkarim Al-Eryani to launch the new AIYS scholarship named the Abdulkarim Al-Eryani Scholarship Fund in honor of the invaluable service that Dr. Al-Eryani has provided to AIYS and the promotion of scholarship in Yemen since its inception.  Learn more about Dr. Eryani on the webpage dedicated to him. This fund will be used exclusively to fund research by Yemeni scholars in all fields.  We invite donations to the fund from private individuals, friends of Dr. Al-Eryani and private business and corporations to this fund.  Donations can be made by clicking on the Join/Donate button at the top of this page.


March 2014 - Southern Issue Committee and National Museum


2014march2AIYS inaugurated a series of discussions about the outcomes of Yemen’s National Dialogue conference this month. Jamal al Awadhi, National Dialogue Observer and founder of the National Center for Human Rights and Democracy Development and the Aden Forum, spoke about Outcomes, Progress, and Conclusions of the National Dialogue Conference. Mr. al-Awadhi brought with him members of the Southern Issue Committee from the NDC who also entered the discussion, voicing their concerns about unresolved grievances in the South. A mixed foreign-Yemeni audience pressed them and Mr. al-Awadhi about tangible and concrete results from the National Dialogue. Responses included the move towards a federalist system and the devising of a constitutional committee to re-draft Yemen’s constitution.




2014march1The AIYS and Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation project to restore the nawba at the National Museum continues apace. Of particular interest this month was a visit from a Yemeni team of surveyors. Working as part of a training project with the Social Fund for Development, they are testing new techniques of photogrammetry as applied to structures of archeological significance in the country. Photogrammetry, the method of mapping and modeling from photography, has been used in Yemen for roads and cities. This training has involved four historic properties, including the nawba; of the four, the nawba represented an especially good opportunity for skill development, since using the technique on curved structures requires more expertise. This is apparently the first time photogrammetry has been used for measuring a curved structure in Yemen. It is also the first time a full modeling of the nawba has been conducted. The AIYS-AFCP project will receive a copy of the final results and will display them in the nawba once it officially opens.


February 2014 - National Museum Project Inaugurated 








AIYS and the National Museum began implementation of the restoration and adaptive reuse of the historic watchtower (nawba) next to the Museum in Tahrir. This project is funded entirely by the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, through the US Embassy in Sana'a. The opening ceremony in February brought officials from the Yemeni Ministry of Culture, General Organization of Antiquities and Museums, the US Embassy, and AIYS to inaugurate the project. Children from a local orphanage performed a music and dance routine, and the Yemeni Youth Parliament was also in attendance. Project work, thus far, has included site preparation and cleaning, technical drawings of the interior of the nawba, and resolution of boundary issues. The nawba will eventually house Yemen’s first Children’s Museum.   

February 2014 - Krama Has No Walls

2014februaryAIYS hosted a screening and discussion of Oscar-nominated director Sara Ishaq’s film Karama Has No Walls (Leysat lil-Karama Jidran). This film features gripping street-level footage of the events of March 18, 2011 during which 52 protestors were killed in Sana’a’s Change Square. Ms. Ishaq, who grew up in Yemen and is of Yemeni-Scottish descent, spoke to a full audience at AIYS--one of the best attended Institute events to date--answering questions about the security risks involved in making the film, feminist critiques of it, and the technical challenges of harmonizing the footage of three cameramen. The film began as a student project but has now become Yemen’s first Oscar-nominated film. AIYS wishes Ms. Ishaq the best of luck at the 2014 Academy Awards!







February 2014 - Conference in Washington on Cultural Heritage Preservation



The American Institute for Yemeni Studies along with the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Binghamton University, and the University of Maryland sponsored a conference on the issues of preservation of cultural heritage in the current period of political crisis following the Arab Spring.  Nancy Um of Binghamton and Michele Lamprakos of the University of Maryland were the principle organizers of the conference held in the Freer and Sackler Galleries of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.  Speakers from around the world spoke of the political issues shaping the meaning of heritage in the Arab world today and the delicate ethical issues facing international agencies in attempting to promote cultural preservation at a time of desperate political crises.  A full list of speakers and papers presented can be found here.



  January 2014 - AIYS Scholars at GOAM

2014jan2 AIYS Fellows Mr. Maher al-Wajih and Mr. Ali Ghondel presented the results of their fellowship research at a seminar sponsored by AIYS and hosted by the General Organization of Antiquities and Museums this month. Mr. al-Wajih analyzed ancient wooden fragments inscribed with zabour script, collecting them from various public and private museums, cleaning, transcribing and then translating the messages into Arabic. Mr. Ghondel conducted a site study of al-Ja‘ir Fort, a military zone where access is usually restricted, on the outskirts of Sana’a. Specifically, he looked at pre-Islamic petroglyphs, copying the inscriptions and photographing the rock engravings of animal and human figures. GOAM staff including director Dr. Abdullah al-Thabit, as well as archeology professor Dr. Yousuf Abdullah from Sana’a University, were in attendance. This research was conducted with the support of the AIYS fellowship program for Yemeni scholars, and copies of the research reports are available in the AIYS library in Sana’a. 


October 2013 - AIYS at MESA, New Orleans 

This October in New Orleans, at the AIYS Business Meeting, held annually in conjunction with the Middle Eastern Studies Association conference, Susanne Dahlgren and Mohammed Sharafuddin presented their recent work on Yemen. Professor Dahlgren discussed the social changes in the south over the last decade and how support for the Herak is evident from the unorganized, spontaneous actions of ordinary citizens and events in Aden. 






Dr. Mohammed Sharafuddin presented a paper on poetry in the Yemeni Arab Spring of 2011. He showed that poetry in Yemeni culture provides a means by which enemies can contain their animosity and differences in the context of competing exchanges of lines of poetry. The poet can express a common humanity underlying both sides of a raging conflict.





September 2013 - Master's Thesis examining Islahtransfeldsmall

AIYS invited Mareike Transfeld, Head of the Research Department at Yemen Polling Center, to deliver a lecture entitled Challenging Goliath: The Yemeni Congregation for Reform and Its Struggle for Political Change (2006-2011). This presentation, based on Transfeld’s Master’s thesis, examined the al Islah party in Yemen, from its inception to its eventual evolution into an effective, though mutable, opposition party, as well as its role after the events of 2011. Transfeld argued that a new theoretical approach was necessary to explain the bottom-up change occurring in Yemen. Subsequent discussion among the large Yemeni and foreign crowd debated the role of the National Dialogue in Yemen’s current political system and how al Islah may contribute to the future of the country.



MLK speeches August 2013

dreamyalismallAIYS hosted presentations by four students from the Yemen-American Language Institute (YALI) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech”. These students were the winners of a competition at YALI that invited them to think about Dr. King’s speech and to write and present their own compositions, entitled I Have a Dream for Yemen. AIYS Country Director Stephen Steinbeiser began the evening with an explanation of the historical importance of the day and Dr. King’s approach to social change, before screening the original speech in its entirety. Aziz al Hadi, General Director of YALI, introduced the students who then presented their dreams for Yemen, inspired by King’s impassioned rhetoric. Thirty foreign and Yemeni guests applauded these students’ efforts, and, during the discussion period, asked whether these students felt their dreams were being considered in current political efforts. AIYS made Arabic translations of Dr. King’s speech available, and representatives from the UN and the online newspaper La Voix du Yemen recorded the students’ speeches.  


 FM Shabab July 2013


AIYS hosted a group of twenty students and trainers from FM Shabab, a youth-led radio station in Sana’a, for a morning of introduction to the Institute and its library resources. FM Shabab is an initiative envisioned and led by World Access Arts, a US NGO dedicated to spreading cultural awareness and developing artistic talent. The Yemeni youth-led radio station designs theatrical broadcasts to raise awareness of certain social issues among youth in the country. These have included the role of women in society, early marriage, revenge, corruption, and terrorism. The FM Shabab youth and their trainers wished to visit the AIYS library in order to conduct additional research on emerging social issues, as well as to gain a deeper understanding of how foreign scholars perceive social issues in Yemen.





YCSR Lecture July 2013july2013schmitzycrs

AIYS President Dr. Charles Schmitz gave a lecture entitled “Debates about Yemen’s Transition: What Can Scholars Contribute?” This event was hosted by AIYS’s Yemeni partner organization, the Yemen Center for Studies and Research. Dr. Schmitz presented his analysis of and reflections on Yemen’s transitions and answered questions from researchers at the Yemeni Center on topics ranging from economic policy to political philosophies. The lecture was open to the public, and a number of foreign scholars, as well as about 30 staff researchers, were in attendance.







Khadija al-Salami July 2013

AIYS hosted Khadija al Salami, a Yemeni filmmaker, author, and AIYS Fellow, to discuss her film The Scream. This latest film was supported in part through the AIYS fellowship for Yemeni scholars. It tells the story of several prominent female Yemen activists and their role and feelings toward the 2011 ‘revolution’ in Change Square in Sana’a. Armed with a camera and courage, al Salami captured riveting footage of women in the Square praying, socializing, teaching, and interacting with all segments of Yemeni society. Through the process of interviewing and conversing, she tells the story of the role of Yemeni women during the ‘revolution’ and documents their protests against years of marginalization. A select group of invited Yemeni and foreign guests enjoyed this special opportunity to interact with Ms. Salami and learn more about her work and views of the events in 2011.    



Yemen: A Society in the World (8 June 2013)caton small

Dr. Steven Caton presented his new book Yemen, a volume in the Middle East in Focus series from ABC-CLIO, at AIYS in June as part of a lecture entitled “Yemen: A Society in the World”. Dr. Katherine Hennessey shared her contribution to the book, as well, which focused on Yemeni fiction and theater. The book is designed for a general audience to learn about all facets of culture, society, and history in the country. Caton made the point that in the book he attempted to re-conceptualize the place of Yemen in the world, less on the periphery and more as a “hub” which branches out in many directions. Hennessey’s presentation of a video clip of hilarious scenes from a Yemeni play further illustrated the notion that, while Yemen’s problems may be unique, the country has modern, even enlightened ways to discuss them. About 60 Yemenis and foreigners attended and applauded this new attempt at imagining Yemen’s place in the world.




mekhlafi smallBarriers to Teaching Women in Some Districts of Amran Governorate (11 June 2013)

The Gender Center at Sana’a University hosted AIYS fellow, Dr. Abdul Hakim al Mekhlafi, Assistant Professor at Amran University, to present the results of his 2012 AIYS fellowship research entitled Barriers to Teaching Women in Some Districts of Amran Governorate. The lecture reinforced the commonly held opinion that barriers to teaching women of all ages are high because of cultural norms and poverty, especially in Amran. In order to overcome these obstacles, the lecturer cited the need to change mentalities which keep women at home and prevent them from pursuing education beyond the primary level. Students and professors from the Gender Center asked questions concerning the place of study, the laws surrounding women’s issues, and the need for increased cooperation between the education ministries. AIYS offered a short reception afterwards to welcome Gender Center students and staff and representatives from the US Embassy.


Yaana min al Shaiba (17 June 2013)

yaana smallAIYS participated in supporting the performance of Yaana min al Shaiba, a play about the fraught social issue of childhood marriage in Yemen. This issue is frequently cited as a hindrance to the achievement of individual female potential and to greater women’s participation in society throughout the country. The play tackled the issue through presentation of three independent acts which involved the same actors in different roles. Despite the serious nature of the topic, the play used humor and levity to convey its message, mainly that early marriage cannot be undertaken lightly or for the reasons commonly used to justify it. Dr. Katherine Hennessey, AIYS Fellow and Researcher in Residence, provided context to the crowd of over 300 Yemeni students, and a brief explanation in English to the dozen foreigners who attended. A music and dance performance showcasing folk dances from the south of Yemen preceded the play. In a reinforcement of the play’s message about the agency of women, male and female dancers performed together, very rare for a public gathering in Yemen. The audience received both performances and the preceding explanation enthusiastically. The Minister of Human Rights was in attendance and several local media outlets covered the event.   


day smallYemen of Many Regions and Identities (23 June 2013)

AIYS hosted Dr. Stephen Day, Assistant Professor at Stetson University, for a presentation entitled Yemen of Many Regions and Identities, and discussion of his book Regionalism and Rebellion in Yemen: A Troubled National Union (Cambridge 2012). Approximately 50 Yemenis and foreigners representing the US Embassy, NGOs, and universities attended and debated the idea of federalism for Yemen and the issue of Yemen’s southern provinces. Day gave the history of his research in the country leading to a book about rebellion, rather than revolution. Several attendees sought input from Day on how to address southern and other grievances via the National Dialogue and further explanation as to the historic divisions of regional identities in Yemen. 




AIYS May 2013


In May AIYS hosted Dr. Sheila Carapico, past president of AIYS, Professor at University of Richmond, and Visiting Professor at American University in Cairo, for a talk entitled Human Rights Between Revolution and Counter-Terrorism. Carapico’s long experience and foundational work on civil society in Yemen give her unique insight into the so-called Arab Spring and its lingering consequences. In her talk, she traced ‘civic openings’ in recent Yemeni history, including the youth-led revolution in 2011. During the discussion period, she answered questions as to whether this opening had now closed and what lessons could be learned from previous periods of national dialogue. A large, international and Yemeni audience, including representatives from the US and Indian embassies and from the current National Dialogue, attended the lecture and participated in discussion afterwards.


April 2013

AIYS and its partner, the Yemen Center for Studies and Research (YCSR), hosted Mr. Adel al Hemyari to present his research in a lecture entitled Medical Prescriptions on the Margins of Yemeni Manuscripts. Al Hemyari is an AIYS fellow and researcher at the House of Manuscripts in Sana’a where he conducted research for the fellowship. The research involved analyzing textual glosses in the margins of manuscripts over 200 years old. Most of the medical advice contained natural, homeopathic remedies. Al Hemyari presented slides of each of the plants, flowers, and trees mentioned in the marginalia. His presentation sparked lively discussion among the 30 YCSR researchers in attendance who chimed in to offer regional dialect names for the plants, many of which are still used today, as well as to suggest additional home uses for them.  


April 2013

 AIYS and the College of Science at Sana’a University hosted presentations by two AIYS fellows, each of whom is a Master’s candidate at the College. Ms. Fatema al Mahbashi presented research entitled Studies of Thermophilic Bacteria from Hot Springs in Yemen. This research included enzyme analysis of water from hot springs in various parts of Yemen, research which has not been conducted extensively yet in the country.

 Ms. Nawal al Malahi discussed the topic of her fellowship in her presentation entitled Study on the Effect of the Insecticide Lambda-cyhalothrin and the Drug L-carnitine on the Tissue and Embryonic Development of Albino Mice. Despite the clinical-sounding name, this study potentially impacts almost everyone in Yemen, as it focused on the effect of pesticides in qat on tissue samples. This is a very early study, but the results clearly showed the detrimental effect of the insecticide. Approximately 30 students and five faculty members of the College of Science attended the presentations.


March 2013

 AIYS sponsored a performance of the Yemeni play, ‘Aismur ma‘ish al siraj (“The Lamp Will Keep You Company”) at the Yemen-America Language Institute this month. This play, based on a collection of Yemeni folktales set in Sana’a and the Hadhramaut and performed in those dialects, investigated the ultimate question “Who loves more deeply: men or women?” Three tales examine the sacrifices and rewards of true love as dramatized by courting and married couples. A pre-performance lecture by Dr. Katherine Hennessey (AIYS/Sana’a University) contextualized the play in light of the country’s political problems. Specifically, she referred to the “national marriage plot”, a device in Irish and British literature, in order to explain marriage in this play as a metaphor for Yemeni politics. She also pointed out the Shakespearian undertones of one of the folktales. The play and lecture were rousingly received by a crowd of about 300 Yemeni students and a handful of international guests. 

March 2013

 AIYS welcomed Kais Aliriani, independent consultant and founder of Investpro, to speak about his foundational research on the micro, small, and medium enterprise sector in Yemen. His talk, entitled The Role of the Small Enterprise Sector in the Yemeni Economy outlined a case for developing growth among small and medium businesses, and examined some of the obstacles facing them in Yemen. Specifically, he cited the dearth of available information on the sector and introduced his own and other surveys on the topic. During the discussion period, a Yemeni and international crowd of about 25 people with representatives from the United Nations, the U.S. and Indian Embassies, the Social Fund for Development, and other NGOs, informally debated the question of whether current assistance to Yemen should focus primarily on development of political capacity and infrastructure or on the micro to medium enterprise sector. 


February 2013

Dr. Adel Ghulan at AIYS discussing the Arabian IbexDr. Adel Abd Al Rashid GhulanDeputy Director of the Environmental Protection Authority in Aden and AIYS Fellow, presented his research on protecting the Arabian Ibex in Wadi Hadhramaut. Dr. Ghulan conducted field surveys among people in Hadhramaut asking about the frequency of ibex sightings and the possible causes of its perceived disappearance. He then pinpointed certain factors which endanger the ibex and suggested precautionary measures. A lively discussion ensued among a Yemeni and international audience which noted the ibex’s importance in Yemeni songs, dances, clothing, and belief systems.





Dr. Marina de Regts lecture at AIYS


February 2013

Dr. Marina de Regt, AIYS member at VU University Amsterdam and author of Pioneers or Pawns? Women Health Workers and the Politics of Development in Yemen, recently visited AIYS and gave a presentation discussing her current research on migration. Her talk, entitled From Bad to Worse? Gender, Labor, and Migration between Yemen and the Horn of Africa, focused on current patterns of migration from Ethiopia to Yemen and the use of Yemen as a transit country. About 60 foreign and Yemeni representatives of international NGOs, ranging from Doctors without Borders to Islamic Relief, were in attendance to discuss their observations of the growing humanitarian crises surrounding Ethiopian migrants in Yemen. The Gender Center of Sana’a University, as well as representatives of the Embassy of the Netherlands and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation also attended and participated in the animated discussion.


Dr. Holger Albrecht at AIYS in January

Lecture on Egyptian Constitution

Dr. Holger Albrecht of the American University in Cairo and the United States Institute for Peace delivered a lecture at AIYS on the Egyptian constitution. He analyzed provisions of the new constitution, comparing them to elements of the previous one. A Yemeni and international audience asked questions about religious influence evident in the document, and drew parallels to a possible new Yemeni constitution. Dr. Holger was in residence at AIYS for several weeks in January.




Fellowship Program

AIYS ended 2012 by receiving its largest and most diverse fellowship applicant pool yet. Potential fellows applied from all over Yemen, with projects ranging from the natural sciences to political science and archeology, in the hope of winning fellowships from AIYS to support their independent research. A fellowship committee in the U.S. will make decisions in 2013, at which point fellowship winners will begin their projects. Upon completion, each fellow will present his or her research at a seminar at their host institute or at AIYS in Sana’a. Summaries of research results are translated and published annually in AIYS’s Yemen Update.


AIYS Fellow Amna Al Awlaki talks about Yemeni thermal springs

AIYS Fellows Seminar at Sana'a University

AIYS and the College of Science at Sana’a University recently held a seminar for two AIYS fellows with the goal of presenting their original research to professors and students in the department. Both female researchers have recently completed their masters’ degrees at the University, and each received the maximum fellowship award from AIYS. The first research project focused on the frequency of salmonella presence in various foods and locations throughout the Yemeni capital, while the second offered an analysis of water and site management at hot springs in the town of Hammam Ali. Approximately sixty students and professors were in attendance.





Mr. Aaron Banks talking about the U.S. political process at AIYS

Lecture on US Electoral Process

In anticipation of the upcoming elections in the U.S., AIYS in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy, hosted a lecture on the electoral process in American politics, focusing on how political campaigns operate. Mr. Aaron Banks, a current U.S. Embassy staff member who worked on President Obama’s 2008 campaign, spoke about the unique American election cycle and shared his personal experiences with it. AIYS extended invitations to professors in the political science department at Sana’a University who brought about 20 of their students to the lecture. The U.S. Cultural Affairs Officer and other Yemeni and American visitors were also in attendance. 






Entrance to National Museum

Reopening of the National Museums

The AIYS Resident Director participated in festivities to mark the re-opening of Yemen's national museums which were closed because of the political turmoil in 2011. Yemen's Ministry of Culture began its celebrations on May 18th, World Museum Day. In addition to the reopening of the National Museum, the House of Folklore, located in a property that formerly belonged to the Imam, was opened to the public for the first time in eight years. The Minister of Culture and other members of the government were in attendance.

















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