Category Archives: Conferences/Lectures

British-Yemeni Society Annual Lecture

Conservative MP Alan Duncan, Shadow Secretary for Trade, Industry and Energy.

The British-Yemeni Society Annual Lecture: Yemen: The Fight for Stability and Hope

The Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan MP will give the 2015 British-Yemeni Society Annual Lecture on 4 February at 6pm at the Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, WC1.

The title is Yemen: The Fight for Stability and Hope.

Sir Alan Duncan played a key role in Britain’s relations with Yemen in his period as Minister of State in the Department of International Aid from 2010 to 2014.  During that time he visited Yemen several times and was closely involved in the UK’s co-chairmanship of the Friends of Yemen process and in shaping the UK’s assistance programme to Yemen.  In 2014 he was appointed the British Government’s Special Envoy to Yemen in which role he works to help deliver the government’s Yemen Strategy, which includes security, stability and development objectives..

Sir Alan is thus in a unique position to discuss Britain’s role in supporting Yemen through its current transition process.

This event is jointly organised by the London Middle East Institute (LMEI) and SOAS with generous support from the MBI al Jaber Foundation.

Schmitz on Yemen



AIYS Vice-President Charles Schmitz contributed the article “Yemen: Failing State or Failing Politics?” to the recent Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar report onFragile Politics.

Here is the first paragraph:

“The literature on failing states focuses on a country’s incapability of serving domestic needs. Beyond the scale of the nation-state, the literature argues that states provide stability for an amorphous international community. Yet, just as in the domestic arena, where the literature on failing states obscures politics by reducing the state to a functional apparatus that delivers goods to citizens, the literature is silent on the international and transnational
politics that shape domestic state institutions. The origins of states in the post-colonial world lie in the global colonial projects of imperial powers. As in the Yemeni case, foreign interests have been critical in determining the course of domestic politics, including the historical development of key political institutions in the postindependence period. The British introduced the concept of the modern state to the Arabian Peninsula in order to secure British interests. The transformation of tribesmen into citizens, and sheikhs into heads of state, was done to guarantee the security of British trade routes. When Yemeni nationalists attacked the palace of the Zaydi Imam in September 1962 and founded the modern Yemen Arab Republic, Saudi Arabia and Egypt fought a proxy war in Yemen that was critical in determining the course of Republican politics. Throughout the modern period, Saudi Arabia jealously guarded its influence in Yemen by making payments to all kinds of domestic actors in order to maintain its influence over Yemeni politics. Then in 2011, when Yemenis revolted against the rule of Ali Abdullah
Saleh and Yemen began a descent into civil war, the United States and Saudi Arabia intervened to shepherd the political settlement that led to the current transitional government. Both the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were concerned primarily with threats emanating from Yemen.”

AIYS at MESA 2014

AIYS panel on tribalism; left to right, Dr. Najwa Adra, Nadwa al-Dawsari, Dr. Abdul Karim al-Aug, Dr. Muhammad Al-Duais, Dr. Charles Schmitz, Dr. Muhammad Sharafuddin

AIYS was well represented at MESA 2014 in Washington.  The two sponsored panels were well attended, as was the business meeting.  Thanks go to CAORC for their continuing support of AIYS and also to Dr. Salwa Dammaj, our Resident Director in Sanaa.

Dr. Muhammad Al-Duais presenting  his talk

Continue reading AIYS at MESA 2014

Nizar Ghanim at AIYS


You are cordially invited to a public lecture and live concert on Monday Nov 17, 2014 at the library of the American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS).

Dr. Nizar Ghanem (Professor of Occupational Medicine, Sana’a University), will give a talk entitled “Dance acculturation in Yemeni civilization.”

The presentation will take place in the AIYS building off Tawfiq St. in the Al-Qaa’ neighborhood. The talk will begin promptly at 10.30 AM. All are invited.

If you need specific directions to AIYS’s location, please call 278 816 or 735608627. We urge first-time visitors to call for directions, as the location is off the main street.

Please distribute this message to other organizations or individuals who may be interested in the topic of this lecture.

AIYS looks forward to welcoming you!
* Please note that the talk will be in Arabic, but the summary will be in English.

Dr.Salwa Dammaj
Country Director
American Institute for Yemeni Studies

Tel: 278 816
Fax: 285 071
Mobile: 735608627

AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

Dr. Amat al-Malik al-Thawr; Dr. Salwa Dammaj; Houda Abalan (Vice Minister of Culture); Sammah Damaj

AIYS organized a seminar on October 30, 2014 on the institute premises. Three working papers were presented. The first one was titled “Manuscripts House in Old City of Sanaa”, the second one’s theme was “Woman Empowerment: Conception and Reality” and the third paper was titled “Woman’s Positions in Yemen’s Ancient Temples”. The seminar brought together a number of academics and researchers from the University of Sanaa and the Yemen Center for Studies and Research, activists and journalists. The Deputy Minister of Culture, Houda Abalan, was in attendance.

The Resident Director of AIYS Dr. Salwa Dammaj started the seminar with short remarks in which she briefed the attendees on the mission and activities of AIYS. Then she introduced the three lecturers who presented the working papers.

Continue reading AIYS Seminar, October 30, 2014

AIYS and YCSR Conference on National Dialogue

The Outcomes of the National Dialogu​e: The Risk of Failure and the Horizon of Implementation
by Dr. Salwa Dammaj , Resident Director of AIYS
The American Institute for Yemeni Studies (AIYS) in Sana’a organized, in collaboration with the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research (YCSR), a seminar themed: The Outcomes of the National Dialogue: The Risk of Failure and the Horizon of Implementation. The function was held on September 2, 2014, in the headquarters of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research (YCSR) in the capital Sana’a.
As Resident Director of the (AIYS), I gave an introduction in which I said: “Firstly, I would like to express thanks and gratitude to Yemen’s great poet and outstanding national and intellectual figure Dr Abdul-Aziz al-Magaleh, the chairman of the Yemeni Center for Studies and Research who always has been a genuine supporter of the (AIYS) activities; thanks also goes to the staff and management of the (YCSR). I would like also to convey to you the greetings of the president at AIYS, Prof. Daniel Martin Varisco.
I continued, saying that this seminar is being held amid a very critical crisis while the country has been experiencing serious complexities and acute variations among the different political forces and social constituencies. It is an alarming dilemma that embodies existential threats which have seriously destabilized Yemen and have grave impacts on Yemeni peoples. Likewise it highlights the pressing need to invoke immediately the National Dialogue’s outcomes.

Continue reading AIYS and YCSR Conference on National Dialogue

In honor of Abdullah al-Baradduni


لذكرى 15 لرحيل الشاعر والمؤرخ والمفكر عبدالله البردوني
بمناسبة الذكرى 15 لرحيل شاعر اليمن الكبير وضميرها الإنساني الأستاذ/ عبدالله البردُّوني، تنظم جبهة إنقاذ الثورة السلمية الصباحية الموسيقية للفنان/ عبدالفتاح القباطي، التي يغني فيها عدد من قصائد البردُّوني. ومعرض الصور للفنان/ عبدالرحمن الغابري، الذي يستعرض ما إلتقطته عدسته من صور تعبر عن مراحل عدة من حياة الأستاذ عبدالله البردُّوني.
تقام الفعالية، العاشرة صباح السبت 30/8/2014م ببيت الثقافة/ شارع القصر/ صنعاء

Yemen Scholars at WOCMES


Today is the second day of the WOCMES (World Council on Middle East Studies) conference in Ankara, Turkey.  There are two panels that focus on Yemen; both were organized by AIYS member, Dr. Najwa Adra.  The first is entitled:  Tribalism in the Middle East I: Tribe and Diatribe: Anthropology Meets Political Science

Moderator & Discussant: Lisa Anderson
Dawn Chatty : Syrian Tribes, National Politics and Transnationalism
Najwa Adra : Qabyila: Tribal Identity in Yemen
Daniel Varisco:  Yemen’s Tribal Idiom:  An Ethno-Historical Survey of Genealogical Models (read by Dr. Mohammed Sharafuddin)

The second panel is entitled:  Tribalism in the Middle East II: Tribes in Yemen: the View from within

Moderator & Discussant: Saad Sowayan
Mohammed Sharafuddin : Poetry and Tribalism in Yemen
Adel Mujahid Al Shargabi : The Future Political Role of Yemeni Tribal Sheikhs in Light of the Expected Outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference
Abdul Karim Alaug : Tribalism in the Yemeni National Dialogue Conference



AIYS at MESA 2014: Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

[P3654] Making Yemen’s Islamic History: Engineering, Monuments, Taxes and Stimulants

 MESA Annual Convention, Washington DC
To be held Monday, 11/24/14 11:00am

•    Written versus archaeological evidence: The example of water and wastewater in medieval Zabid, Yemen by Dr. Ingrid Hehmeyer
•    Ideal and pragmatic tax law in mediaeval Zaydi Yemen by Dr. Eirik Hovden
•    A cultural heritage text from early medieval South Arabia by Dr. Daniel Mahoney
•    Coffee and Qat in Yemen: The Historical and Literary Evidence for their Introduction by Dr. Daniel Martin Varisco
•    Discussant:  Dr. Nancy Ajung Um


Scholarship on Islamic history has paid less attention to Yemen than to Iraq, Syria or Egypt. Despite an important corpus of manuscripts and the publication of several significant primary sources, the historical reconstruction of Islamic Yemen lags behind these other regions. This panel brings together historians who work on various periods in Yemen to illustrate how the current historiography is being made. Archaeological fieldwork on the Islamic era has been limited with the notable exception of the Royal Ontario Museum project on Zabid. Based on the excavation of water works in Zabid, one paper compares the material evidence with the description of water engineering schemes in the 16th century Yemeni text History of Zabid by Ibn al-Dayba’, thus showing the importance of archaeology for fleshing out the tantalizing details in written texts. Another paper focuses on the 10th century multi-volume al-Iklil of the Yemeni savant al-Hamdani, who provides a rhetorical landscape of monuments as an aid in the formation and maintenance of the South Arabian political identity in a fashion akin to modern cultural heritage texts. At the same time, al-Hamdani’s reconstruction of Yemen’s pre-Islamic past serves as a mirror of the politics of his own time, with the retreat of the Abbasid presence and the recent arrival of both Zaydis and Isma’ilis to northern Yemen, more than a century before the Ayyubid invasion. The Zaydi presence in Yemen’s north since the late ninth century is the focus of a paper on the tax policies of the Zaydi imams, especially the tension between the traditional zakat on production and other kinds of taxes. This paper discusses both the theological debate about tax collection and recorded information on how taxes were actually collected. Another paper examines the evidence for the introduction of both coffee (Coffea arabica) and qat (Catha edulis) into Yemen, probably during the Rasulid era. Recent research has resolved the issue of the origin of the term “qat” and there is a need to update discussion of the stimulant in previous sources, including the EI. This paper will examine historical, literary, legal and lexical sources as well as Yemeni folklore. Overall the panel provides both an indication of current research and an invitation for other scholars to help make Yemen’s history as well.