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

AIYS at MESA 2015

sanaa yemen rebels rally

AIYS will be well represented at MESA 2015 in Denver, Colorado this November.  We have two sponsored panels as follows:

[P4124] Turmoil and Tolerance: Unpacking the Current Crisis in Yemen   Sunday, 11/22/15 4:30pm

Yemen is currently in a state of major political transformation with multiple groups vying for power, many of them funded by external powers. Grafted on to the traditional hierarchies of an elite religious group (Sada) in the north, tribes and other traditional groups are numerous new players, including Salafis, the Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, the Huthi movement and the southern secessionists (Hirak). After the fall of President Ali Abdullah Salih, a National Dialogue was held to come up with a new constitution and an improved form of government for a country with acute poverty levels and economic downturns. In early 2015 this process was interrupted with the takeover of government offices by the Huthis and their allies. This panel will unpack elements of the ongoing political crisis with a focus on the role of tolerance in the longue duree of Yemen’s history.

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AIYS in Japan and Qatar


AIYS President Dan Varisco visited Japan last week and gave three talks on the current crisis in Yemen.  The first was at the Institute for Developing Economies in Tokyo on June 3, the second at Tokyo University’s Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia on June 4 and the third was at the Institute for Energy Economics on June 8. While in Tokyo President Varisco met a number of Japanese scholars who work on Yemen thanks to the efforts of Dr. Hiroshi Sato Kan.

On his return to Doha, he gave a similar presentation at a Gulf Studies Center program at Qatar University on the situation in Yemen on June 11.  The goal of all the talks was to provide the context for the current conflict and draw attention to the massive humanitarian crisis resulting from the recent bombing and internal fighting.  As Ramadhan approaches, we all wish a speedy and decisive diplomatic resolution to the ongoing conflict.

President Varisco is Research Professor and Coordinator of Social Science Research at the Center for Humanities and Social Sciences at Qatar University.

Eric Watkins Papers on Yemen


Understanding the Turmoil in Yemen: The Eric Watkins Papers


Yemen is currently involved in significant turmoil, today serving as a battleground in an apparent proxy war between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Special Collections at San Diego State University can add to the understanding of the present situation through its extensive collection of the papers of Eric Watkins (SDSU 1970), whose work over a quarter of a century has focused on key elements of the region’s geopolitics, including the instability that has wracked Yemen for decades and given rise to a variety of international issues, including the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Eric Watkins Papers
Eric Watkins (SDSU 1970) worked as an independent foreign correspondent in Africa,  the Middle East, Central Asia, Europe, and the U.S. from 1989-2015. Watkins specialized in oil, shipping and terrorism, with his stories appearing in The Economist, The Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Watkins’ work also appeared in specialist publications like Lloyd’s List, Middle East Economic Survey and Oil & Gas Journal. The Eric Watkins Papers contain Watkins’ stories, broadcasts and photographs during that time, as well as interview notebooks, draft articles, and background sources, along with documentation of his early life, education, and travels as a foreign correspondent.

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Yemen Antiquities Bombed


Smoke rises from al-Qahira castle, an ancient fortress that was recently taken over by Shiite rebels, as another building on the Saber mountain, in the background, explodes after Saudi-led airstrikes in Taiz city, Yemen, on May 21.  (Abdulnasser Alseddik/AP)

The world may be ignoring the destruction of cultural treasures in Yemen

June 5, Washington Post

In Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State’s wanton vandalizing and looting of antiquities has rightfully led to horror around the world. But those sites may not be the only cultural sites in the Middle East facing destruction.

In Yemen, where Houthi rebels are fighting pro-government forces and a Saudi-led coalition, there have been numerous reports of irreplaceable sites being damaged by violence, too, even if they have failed to spark the same outrage.

On Thursday, for example, the Yemen Post tweeted images of the centuries-old al-Qahira castle apparently being hit by an airstrike. The castle was “destroyed,” the local outlet stated.

It is unclear whether the castle has actually been destroyed or what the level of destruction at the site amounts to. The photographs shared by the Yemen Post appear to date back to May.

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