Yemen – terrorist country or rich new world?

 Roisin Taylor (Scotland/Ireland AC 07-09)

 “We advise against all but essential travel to Yemen. There have been a series of recent terrorist attacks both inside and outside the capital, Sana’a, including against the US embassy on 18 March, There is a high threat from terrorism in general in Yemen, including against Western, and British, interests. You should be particularly vigilant in public places frequented by expatriates and foreigner travellers. We believe that terrorists continue to plan attacks.”, The British and Foreign Commonwealth Office website, 11th April 2008.

In February of this year, a group of eleven students including myself travelled to Yemen and we would tell you that we experienced a completely different side to Yemen to that which is quoted above.

The trip to Yemen organised for teachers and students was part of  ‘project week’, an initiative that runs at Atlantic College every year, giving students the opportunity to broaden their cultural understanding and give back to the community. What we discovered, was that views like the one above are the sort of thing that reflect, sadly, negatively on a country due to the acts of a select few individuals.  The experiences that I had during project week were amazing and I would like to give you an account of the colourful journey.

Previous to my trip to Yemen, all I knew of the Arab world was what I had read or seen in the media, and stories from the Arabs I had met at Atlantic College, or people who had stayed in that part of the world. So it is not unsuspecting that I was surprised by some of the things that I witnessed there.

We went to an event for International Woman’s day and I saw a woman in a veil showing only her eyes, stand up and talk passionately about human rights.  In the west (here is my attempt at not making a generalisation) we tend to think that the wearing of veils (and sometimes the hijab – a head scarf- too) is something that infringes the rights of the woman.  But this woman was standing up there saying that this was what she wanted, and that she found it liberating.  For the duration of the trip, the other girls and I each wore the Habaia (a long black dress) and Hijab.  This was not something which we had to do, but something that we wanted to. I don’t think I would have had half of the experiences, had I not worn it.  People seemed to be intrigued by why we were wearing it, and others flattered.  I had a small girl in a village outside of Sana’a tell me I was beautiful when I wore it.  She was wrong, but it’s the thought that counts! Not once wearing it did I feel suppressed or that my human rights were infringed or even trapped. But I do not know if I would have felt the same if I had been made to wear a veil showing only my eyes.

It was as if we were seeing the other side of the argument wherever we went.  I was in a restaurant and there was a picture of Saddam Hussein up on the wall, and it took me a long time to realise who it was, because the poster seemed to be supporting him.  I asked one of the ambassadors who had shown us around, why there would be a picture of a dictator up on the wall of a public place and he said: “Well, Yemen was on Iraq’s side for the First Gulf War.  They don’t tell you the good things Saddam did.”  Pieces of information like this showed me more than I could ever have possibly imagined.

This trip opened up windows into a world which is so different to my own, but that I want to explore until I have seen all of it.  The man who ran the college and language centre that we were staying in told us to visit everywhere that the media told us not to- Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.  He told us that only by doing this would we be able to see the real countries behind the headlines, the Arab world in reality, not in the media. 

– United World College Student Magazine –




3 thoughts on “Yemen – terrorist country or rich new world?

    firstful I’m orginally from YEMEN(=the happy land=sheba kingdom),I’m too a university student (facullty of engineering,SANAA UNIV.),so I want to give you my comments about your wonderful article.


    1.Terrorist country??,absolutely that’s wrong ,as you said: we can’t generalize these words ,it will cause a lot of unknown problems.simply these undirective words has shaped the main enemy for arab,islamic,southern peoples.If your title of this article-as an example-was writen in arabic langauge within your picture,you’ll have a problem for any visit later.

    2.When we hear a bombing ,we are understanding that there’re unknown hand for unknown why?.Yemen really has a big danger made by orginalizition and illiterating.

    3.Many and many people you may meet try to be gentle and smile with you,he\she knows that you’re american or european then appears his\her happiness for talking with you.Really I believe that there is no problem with western or made by them.

    4.You know Hijab is found in Yemen and Suadi Arabia with no area for woman’s opinions,and in other gulf countries more liberally .So I think the woman’s sense will still be disappear for you (exactlly as me), related to centuries of closed will meet women hates her traditions and others believe.that’s natural!

    5.Here in Yemen ,We need to open our doors and windows for current world and to receive the light.we don’t need necessarily to delate our wrong concepts (Impossible),we (need) just for openning and cultural exchange,so you wont find Hijab in Syria,Lebnon,Egypt and Turkey with the same bonders here.

    6.YES,ArabWorld is completely different ,it’s not as on media.and for me ,I said the same idea to my own people (America is not just a man) .

    7.Now ,you may not shock if I would tell you :some people here and over Arab World have defined a person like Saddam or Bin Laden as a hero.No a reason exept to his saying “NO” for Bush’s requests.
    thank so mush for intersting
    you’re welcome to Yemen
    Mohammed Arikyii
    22 Apr 2008
    my wishes

  2. Dear Children

    I am writing with regard to the pregnant issue, and as such it necessitates the most effective national and international circulation.

    As has been expressed in a department of government in the Greater City of London, I am a highly motivated, hard working and focussed individual, with the drive to succeed.

    Before revealing the present issue’s conditions I do encourage all brothers and sisters throughout the nations to hold hands together as children Before Their Father, for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

    Considering and reaffirming the unique opportunity that the UN GA, fifty-fifth session, 111 plenary meeting, Resolution 55/282 offer for a cessation of violence, hostility and conflict within the global Community, I herewith address further attention on paragraph 3;

    3. Invites all Member States, organisations of the United Nations system, Regional and non-governmental organisations and individuals to commemorate in an appropriate manner, the International Day of Peace including through education and public awareness, and to cooperate with the United Nations in the establishment of the global ceasefire.

    Desiring to draw diligence to the aforementioned objective and therefore eradicating tensions and causes of conflict, I have informed and requested the attention and assistance of the national and international institutions or bodies disclosed into the present report:

    . UN Security Council;
    . UN General Assembly;
    . UN Peace Building Commission;
    . UN Non-Proliferation and Disarmament department;
    . UN Secretary General;
    . UN Security Council Presidents;
    . UN 193 Permanent Mission’s Representatives to the United Nations;
    . UN Spiritual Foundation;
    . The Vatican City Rome;
    . International Court of Justice;
    . Court of Justice of the European Communities;
    . The Council of the European Union;
    . European Court of Human Rights;
    . European Commission;
    . Eurojust;
    . Inter Parliamentary Union;
    . Association of Secretary General of Parliaments;
    . National Parliaments;
    . World Embassies;
    . Amnesty International worldwide;
    . Fundamental Rights Agency;
    . NHS worldwide, Mental Health Department
    . The White House, the President of the USA;
    . The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom;
    . The President of the European Commission;
    . Committee of the Regions of the European Union;
    . European Social Committee;
    . Office for official publication of the European Communities;
    . The World Council of Religious Leaders;
    . European Ombudsman;
    . United Kingdom London Ombudsman;
    . Her Majesty the Queen Elisabeth ii;
    . UK Royal Court of Justice, 16 Judges informed;
    . UK Inspectorate of Court Administration;
    . UK House of Lords;
    . UK House of Common;
    . UK Ministry of Justice;
    . UK Ministry of Defence;
    . UK Her Majesty Stationery Office;
    . UK Government Offices;
    . UK London Government Communication Headquarters;
    . UK London Local Government Association;
    . UK Greater London Authority;
    . UK London Foreign and Commonwealth Office;
    . UK London Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration;
    . UK London Improvement and Development Agency;
    . UK London Cabinet Office;
    . UK London Security Service MI5;
    . UK London Secret Intelligence Service;
    . UK London Government Human Rights Unit;
    . UK London Metropolitan Police Forces;
    . UK London BBC News;
    . First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Belfast;
    . Youth Justice Board for England and Wales;
    . UK Department of Work and Pensions;
    . UK Work Directions;
    . UK London Burleigh College, Hammersmith;

    The above unveiled institutions or bodies have represented and verified maladministration at the local, national and international level.

    The requested assistance to this urgent global concern has been declined.

    Political and Religious Institutions or Bodies herewith delivered have neglected to establish conditions under which Justice and Respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of national and international Law can be maintained.

    It is discernible that Restoration of Political and Religious administration and its execution at the local, national and international level to its original design, is under compulsion.

    This calls for Wisdom.

    20 April 2008

    Your Faithfully, Your Little Brother

    Giuseppe Biondo

  3. Hello every body

    first ofall I would like to say thanks a lot to Roisin for her article, Im one of the people who received the students and I spent most of the time with them, it was a very nice time and I hope that the programm will not stop even if not in Yemen the students can visit any other arabic country.
    The Yemeni students who were with the UWC students were trying to do their best to change the Image of Yemen in the western media eyes and these students are ready to go on with their effort and help for this kind of programms, our aim was to change the view over our country and I think me and my friends made a good progress and this progress is showd by the article of Roisin which was one of our goals that the students of UWC will be Yemeni’s embassdors in their countries and they will be as the told us.
    again thanks to Roisin and the rest of the students also for the cordinator of this project Mr.Nidal and Mr. Goeff and Lydia.

    Best wishes
    Mansoor AL-Kaderi

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