Socotra Film


One of the remaining marvels off the east coast of Africa is the island archipelago of Socotra, historically associated with Yemen, the nation which it belongs to. Socotra is a preserve of biodiversity with a local population not yet catapulted into the under-development pains of the 21st century. There is a fascinating film about the need to protect Socotra’s unique environment and its people from the devastating impact of uncontrolled “development.” Among the individuals speaking is Dutch ecologist Paul Scholte, who has extensive research experience both in Yemen and Africa. Check out both parts of the film here and here. There are a number of Youtube videos on Socotra, but most are tourist oriented and do not match the information level of this film.

Serjeant’s “Prose and Poetry” now in Arabic


There is now an Arabic edition of R. B. Serjeant’s classic South Arabian Poetry: Prose and Poetry from Hadramawt (1951).

كتاب (نثر وشعر من حضرموت) للمستشرق البريطاني روبرت سارجنت في المكتبة العربية الآن

صدر عن دار ثقافة للنشر والتوزيع كتاب (نثر وشعر من حضرموت) للمستشرق البريطاني روبرت سارجنت، وترجمة الأديب الحضرمي سعيد محمد دحي. الكتاب يُعد أحد أهم ما كُتب عن خصائص المجتمع الحضرمي في النصف الأول من القرن العشرين وعن طريق قراءة عميقة للنثر والشعر العامي الذي تم انتاجه في حضرموت في تلك الفترة.

ويصف المترجم سعيد دحي في مقدمته للكتاب روبرت سارجنت بأنه خير من يمثل الباحثين الأوروبيين الجادين والنشطين والموضوعين الذي درسوا تراث أمتنا العربية ونظمها الثقافية والمعرفية والشعبية والدينية وتلمس شخصية الأمة العربية في إطارها الحضاري المتميز ويهتز طربا لاحتفالاتها ومواسمها الشعبية والأعراس والمناسبات التي يتجلى فيها إبداعها بأبهى مظاهره وصوره وتنوع فنونه من خلال اللهجة العامية والأشعار الشعبية والأغاني والأهازيج والزوامل.

Continue reading Serjeant’s “Prose and Poetry” now in Arabic

Facebook Yemen: الجمعية الفلكية اليمنية


The Astronomical Society of Yemen has a Facebook site created by the distinguished scholar of Yemeni astronomy, Yahya Yahya al-Ansi.  Check it out at

أهلا وسهلا بك إلى الجمعية الفلكية باليمنية. مخصص لطرح ومنافشة انشطة الجمعية المختلفة … مخصص لطرح كافة الانشطة الفلكية عربيا وعالميا

الاستاذ يحيى يحيى العنسي


Najwa Adra on Yemen

AIYS member and fellow, Najwa Adra, now a Visiting Scholar at the Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University, has been active speaking about her research and consulting experience in Yemen over the past academic year. Dr. Adra first arrived in Yemen in 1978 to conduct ethnographic research in the highland valley of al-Ahjur.  She has returned many times since then on projects for the Population Council, FAO, UNICEF, USAID and the World Bank.


• 2013 – 2014 Women and Peacebuilding in Yemen: Challenges and Opportunities. Policy Brief, Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF). Available online:  Republished in Open Democracy, January 21, 2014

Seminars, Professional Papers and Lectures:

Continue reading Najwa Adra on Yemen

South Arabian antiquities fellowship

Wendell Phillips (right)

The Freer and Sackler Galleries are pleased to announce a new curatorial fellowship for fall, 2014

The Ancient Art Curatorial Fellowship at the Freer and Sackler Galleries is intended to promote collection-based research and curatorial training in one of two focused areas of ancient art. The incumbent will work with the Freer|Sackler curator of Islamic art and other staff as necessary and participate in the museums’ activities as requested. Fellowship duties will include exhibition-related work with the relevant collection, carried out in consultation and collaboration with Freer|Sackler staff.

Depending on the scholarly background and interest of the successful applicant, the fellowship will be awarded in one of two collections areas: ancient art of South Arabia or the art of the Sogdians. This is a one-year fellowship, with the possibility of renewal.

Please visit the fellowship webpage for more information and application instructions.
The application deadline is May 15, with notification in early June and a start date in the fall.

Nancy Micklewright
Head, Scholarly Programs and Publications
Washington, DC

Qat banned in China

Forget about being banned in Boston (which the Yemeni stimulant qat (Catha edulis) already is), since now it is illegal to possess, circulate or chew qat in China.  According to a report in Yemen Press, it seems that the Chinese authorities have been cracking down on Yemenis bringing qat with them at the major airports.  This has forced the Yemen Embassy in China to issue a letter to its citizens warning them about the ban.  It appears that China is following the lead of Britain, which banned qat in Britain despite the fact that the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) concluded there was no evidence that chewing the fresh leaves was harmful.

As is found elsewhere, the fresh leaves of Catha edulis are mislabeled as a “drug” or “narcotic” , as on this website for a drug-free China.  There is a market for qat in China, as shown in this youtube video, although ironically it is Ethiopian qat that is being imported.

Carapico on Yemen

[AIYS board member and former president Sheila Carapico published a commentary on Mouftah about the ongoing political crisis in Yemen.]

Of Transitology and Counter-Terror Targeting in Yemen

by Sheila Carapico, Mouftah, April 22

Far from the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf, tucked at the underside of the Arabian Peninsula where the Red Sea meets the Indian Ocean, Yemen is at the periphery of Middle East studies and beyond the attention span of mainstream American media. It is a counter-terror target.

It is as if this country of some 25 million citizens is not a real place, as much as it is an outer space or a basket case. According to various journalistic tropes, Yemen is a ‘terrorist haven,’ the ‘ancestral homeland of Usama Bin Ladin,’ an untamed frontier where presumably the only choice for the United States is to shoot first and ask questions later.

To the extent there is conventional wisdom on Yemen, it presents the country as host to all manner of problems. It is the poorest and most poverty-stricken Arab country, with the youngest population. The capital city and other metropolitan areas have soaked up all the fresh water. There is an openly irredentist popular movement in what used to be the People’s Democratic Republic of (South) Yemen, and an obscure but persistent rebellion near the Saudi frontier by a group known as the Huthis who the Saudis say are backed by Iran. Yemen is also a sanctuary for a terrorist entity called al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, often abbreviated as AQAP, the target of American drone strikes that occasionally kill hapless civilians. Tribesmen blow up oil installations, block roads, and occasionally take hostages. Most of the remaining detainees at Guantanamo Prison come from Yemen, but even after being cleared for release US authorities are reluctant to repatriate them to their home country.

Continue reading Carapico on Yemen

Gender Issues in the New Yemen

[The following commentary by Samira Ali BinDaair was first published on Tabsir on April 15 and reposted in the Yemen Times on April 22.]

When it comes to women and gender in Yemen, I see the discussions inevitably alternating between what is happening in politics and then back again to the same old arguments about women’s rights. I think the problem is that we always look at women’s issues from a very narrow angle lens even though we profess to uphold women’s rights, whatever those are and by whosoever’s definition. After working for the past 20 years in development programmes that spanned different agendas and a variety of target groups and where gender analysis always featured largely, I can safely say that this whole concept of gender mainstreaming was introduced to Yemen without being communicated through more cultural-sensitive strategies. The result has been considerable confusion. Because it was introduced by Western agencies, it was sometimes greatly misunderstood, misimplemented and misused by people with vested interests, just as some men with vested interests have misinterpreted the role of women in Islam. Continue reading Gender Issues in the New Yemen