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Travels to Aden and Mocha in the mid 19th Century, #6

Coffee hills of Yemen (from Niebuhr’s travels)

This post continues the story of Joseph B. F. Osgood (1823-1913), whose Notes of Travel or Recollections of Majunga, Zanzibar, Muscat, Aden, Mocha, and other Eastern Ports (Salem: George Creamer, 1854) describes the Arabian coastline, like a 19th century Ibn Baṭūṭṭa. For Part #1, click here; for Part #2, click here; for Part #3, click here; for Part #4, click here; for Part #5, click here.

Osgood provides details on the coffee plant and its distribution to the port of Mocha:

“The coffee plant grows sixteen or eighteen feet high, with an upright stem covered with a light brown bark. Its branches grow horizontally and opposite, crossing each other, and form a pyramidical appearance. The leaves grow on the opposite side of the branches, to the length of four or five inches, and to half that width in the middle. The flowers, growing in bunches at the junction of the leaves, are white, maturing first into green, then red berries resembling bunches of cherries, [p. 181] each of which contains two kernels. But one crop is annually produced, which is gathered in the months of January and February. For the purpose of being dried in the sun, the gathered coffee is spread on the house-tops, or cleared spaces of ground, where it is frequently watered to open the koke, or shell, which is always separated by grinding before packing. The coffee raised at Annas and Sana, which is held in the best estimation, is generally dried upon temporary floors, covered with a compost of clay and cow ordure, which protects the coffee from vermin and also gives it a permanent yellowish color. How perceptibly such a compost may affect the taste of the coffee would doubtless be a matter of inquiry with the tidy, cow-loving Hindu house-wife, who uses a solution of it to purify her parlors, ornament her walls and doorways, and for numerous other purposes.

Large quantities of coffee arrive at Mocha, from March to the latter part of July, from the coffee districts within twenty days’ journey. Camels are employed in its transportation, each of which carries about six hundred pounds, contained in two sacks. They are driven in long trains of fifty or more, arranged one behind another, the head of each being tied to the tail of the camel immediately before him. Thus arranged but few drivers are necessary.

Continue reading Travels to Aden and Mocha in the mid 19th Century, #6

Markazi Exhibition



NYU Abu Dhabi, The Project Space  February 4th – February 27th

NYU New York , 19 Washington Square North    February 4 – May 30, 2018

Markazi, the exhibition, casts light on the conditions of mobility and immobility in Yemen and the Horn of Africa, through its focus on households and everyday life in Markazi. Photographs by Nadia Benchallal, taken over several extended visits between December 2016 and October 2017, depict camp residents navigating a state of increasingly permanent suspension. These household portraits attest to the diversity and dignity of Markazi’s – and Yemen’s – population. In addition to Nadia Benchallal’s black-and-white and color photographs, the exhibit features the work of nine Markazi residents who collaborated with Nadia Benchallal and Nathalie Peutz over the course of a year.

Painting tribute to the victims of Yemen’s war

Subay’s mural in the Beni Hawat area [Majd Fuad/Al Jazeera]

In Yemen, Murad Subay’s bold murals commemorate the human cost of war.

Zoe Hu | |, Al Jazeera

Not many street artists welcome an audience. But Yemeni painter Murad Subay, 27, doesn’t like to work in the dark.

His murals – and their bold proclamations of colour – serve as public gathering points, where strangers come to watch Subay paint while offering comments, critiques, and bottles of juice or water.

Whether the murals bear criticism or colourful celebration, they are never done in secret. For Subay, that is exactly the point.

For over four years, the young artist has used five different art campaigns to construct public spaces where people can denounce social ills and express the community’s frustrations.

In his latest campaign, “Ruins”, each mural serves as both art and remembrance; done in tandem with fellow artist Thi Yazen, the project commemorates the civilian deaths of the ongoing violence in Yemen, where the WHO estimates 2,800 have died since March.

While focus may now be on the country’s politics and the recent failure of the Geneva conference, Subay embarked on Ruins in order to call attention to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

To do so, he has taken his tools to the most damaged areas in Sanaa, erecting murals amid the destruction of air strikes in order to “paint” tribute to the conflict’s human cost.

For the full interview, click here.

Yemen’s Grape Harvest

grapes1Photograph courtesy of Dr. Muhammad Gerhoum

Amidst the suffering that continues unabated in Yemen, it still remains a land famous for its bountiful fruits, especially the many varieties of grapes.  The early Muslim geographer Ibn Rusta stated that there were 70 varieties of grapes in Yemen in his day.  There are still many varieties, especially raziqi, ‘asami, aswad and biyadh. Grapes ripen in the northern highlands of Yemen during the hot period of jahr and are plentiful in June and July in the southern highlands.

Photograph courtesy of Dr. Muhammad Gerhoum

New Yemeni Government Formed


“المشهد اليمني ” ينشر أسماء وزراء حكومة الشراكة الوطنية بحسب مصادر رئاسية
الثلاثاء 4 نوفمبر

– See more at:

“المشهد اليمني ” ينشر أسماء وزراء حكومة الشراكة الوطنية بحسب مصادر رئاسية
الثلاثاء 4 نوفمبر

– See more at:

 نوفمبر 2014* المشهد اليمني:
كشف مصدر رئاسي لـ ” المشهد اليمني” عن التشكيلة الأولية لحكومة الشراكة الوطنية برئاسة خالد محفوظ بحاح .
وأشار المصدر الى أن التشكيلة كانت حصيلة مشاورات رئيس الجمهورية ورئيس الحكومة وبإشراف ممثل للمبعوث الأممي لليمن  جمال بنعمر.
وتوقع المصدر صدور قرار بتشكيل حكومة الشراكة الوطنية خلال الأيام القادمة .

المشهد اليمني بنشر الأسماء الحكومة الجديدة :
1- خالد محفوظ بحاح رئيسا لمجلس الوزراء
2- أمير سالم عيدروس وزيرا للخارجية
3- الدكتور محمد يحيى مطهر وزيرا للتعليم العالي والبحث العلمي
4- الحبيب علي الجفري وزيرا للأوقاف والإرشاد
5- الدكتورة قبول محمد المتوكل وزيرا للشئون الاجتماعية والعمل
6- المهندس عبدالله علي الديلمي وزيرا للأشغال العامة والطرق
7- المهندس عبدالرؤوف بن بريك وزيرا للثروة السمكية
8- اللواء محمود أحمد الصبيحي وزيرا للدفاع
9- المهندس بسام أحمد البرق وزيرا للكهرباء
10- حسين الرشيد جمال الكاف وزيرا للنفط والمعادن
11- الدكتور يحيى الشعيبي وزيرا للخدمة المدنية والتأمينات
12- حمزة أمين الكمالي وزيرا للشباب والرياضة
13- اللواء علي ناصر لخشع وزيرا للداخلية
14- الدكتور احمد عوض بن مبارك وزيرا للتخطيط والتعاون الدولي
15- الهندس عامر هزاع وزيرا للاتصالات وتقنية المعلومات
16- يحيى العرشي وزيرا للإدارة المحلية
17-  صالح شعبان  وزيرا للمالية
18- الدكتور محمد أبوبكر المفلحي وزيرا للتعليم الفني والتدريب المهني
19- المهندس قحطان يحيى الأصبحي وزيرا للزراعة والري
20- عبدالرحمن الحسني وزيرا للتربية والتعليم
21- الدكتور عبدالله عبدالولي ناشر وزيرا للصحة العامة والسكان
22- علياء فيصل الشعبي وزيرا لحقوق الإنسان
23- الدكتور وهيب خدابخش وزيرا للشئون القانونية
24- خالد الرويشان وزيرا للسياحة
25- محمد إبراهيم الحمدي وزيرا للمياه والبيئة
26- عبدالباري طاهر الأهدل وزيرا للثقافة
27- اللواء خالد باراس وزيرا لشئون المغتربين
28- خالد الوزير وزيرا للنقل
29- القاضية هاله القرشي وزيرا للعدل
30- أحمد با زرعه وزيرا للصناعة والتجارة
31- علي عشال وزيرا للدولة لشئون مجلسي النواب والشورى
32- أمة العليم السوسوة وزيرا للإعلام
33- الدكتور ناصر العولقي وزيرا للدولة لشئون مجلس الوزراء
34- حسن زيد وزيرا للدولة عضو مجلس الوزراء
35- اللواء عبدالقادر علي هلال وزيرا للدولة امنيا للعاصمة .

Art and Islam in Yemen

The ongoing controversy of art and Islam

by Mohammed Al-Khayat, Yemen Times, August 7, 2014
One Yemeni artist was beaten for having painted  a woman wearing a traditional Yemenis dess (pictured).

One Yemeni artist was beaten for having painted a woman wearing a traditional Yemeni dress (pictured).

From the US to Yemen, the cliché of the starving artist is nearly universal. The word “artist” is nearly synonymous with “struggle” for those who make the pursuit their life’s full-time work, whatever their geographic location.
Artist Radfan Al-Mohammadi, who is also the head of the Arabian Forum for Fine Arts, has paid a high-price for his art, including the breaking-off of an engagement when the uncle of his future bride learned of his profession. Like concerned relatives around the world, he feared that Al-Mohammadi would not be able to support his daughter.

There was a secondary concern as well. Like many—but not all—Muslims, he feared that his daughter’s fiancé was pursuing a haram (“forbidden”) activity under Islamic doctrine. The subject has been widely debated by religious scholars.

“[The] rulings come from God and his prophet. It is not permitted to re-create the image of a human being under any circumstance,” said Mo’amar Al-Dhafree, an imam at Al-Sunna Mosque in Taiz and a Salafi clergyman.

However, a high-ranking official from the Rashad Union, a Salafi political party, told the Yemen Times the situation was not so straight forward.

Continue reading Art and Islam in Yemen

Bonnefoy on the Yemeni Revolution


Laurent Bonnefoy and Marine Poirer have just published “The Structuration of the Yemeni Revolution.  Exploring a Process in Motion” in Revue Française de Science Politique 62 (5-6):131-150, 2014).  This is an English translation of an article originally published in French.  Dr. Bonnefoy has uploaded it to his site.

New AIYS Resident Director

Dr. Salwa Dammaj, AIYS Sanaa Resident Director (left)
and Dr. Khalid Abdullah

The Sanaa office of AIYS has a new resident director, Dr. Salwa Dammaj.  Dr. Dammaj has a Ph.D. in International Relations from Malaya University (2013) on the topic “United States in the Red Sea: An Analysis on Foreign and Security Policy, 1990-2008.”  She is also Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Sanaa University.  On August 26 Dr. Dammaj hosted around 25 guests to a public discussion event, at which two new AIYS Yemeni fellows for 2013/2014 talked about their research proposals.  The first was by ‘Ali Faisal, who spoke on recording popular stories from Socotra and translating them into Arabic and English. His proposed research was amazing and he surprised the audience.  The second talk was by Khaled Abdullah on a historical study of colonial Aden’s political development and the election of councils from 1937-1967. His proposal was well done too. Most of the audience were professors in Sanaa University and YCSR.