BBC: Life in Yemen

From a BBC article on Yemen:

Yemen's tenuous grip on stability

By Brian Barron

A couple of days earlier I had wobbled into Yemen via an enormous set of mobile airport steps that had the shakes.

Even as Sanaa expands at breakneck speed beyond its ancient confines, the heart of the capital remains a captivating labyrinth of Arab coffee shops, silversmiths making ceremonial daggers, and stalls overflowing with spices and herbs.

Through one doorway you glimpse a camel in an inside chamber walking in tight circles, pulling a rotating soya bean grinder.

All this is overlaid with prayers being called day and night. A cacophony so intense because of the thousands of loudspeakers, that the government is trying to limit the volume in the wee hours because of complaints from sleep deprived citizens.

Piety prevails today. Yemen seems in the grip of an almost feverish bout of mosque building.

One Sanaa columnist reckons 50,000 mosques have risen across the nation, compared with 12,000 new schools.

Remember, this is a big place, roughly the size of France.


If you come across a Western envoy doing his rounds, especially outside the capital, you cannot miss the bodyguards.

Map of Yemen Republic including the capital Sanaa
Fit looking military veterans, with cropped hair, in civilian clothes, carrying backpacks. These are full of weapons and communications gear.

In Yemen today, the backpack men are an essential part of survival for those who might be targets.

The worry for the West is that Yemen is the odd man out in Arabia.

To the north lie rich neighbours like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, though Yemen remains one of the world's poorest countries.

To the south, just across the Gulf of Aden, lies the failed state of Somalia and troubled Ethiopia.

With corruption allegedly on a huge scale, oil revenue dwindling, water resources drying up, and the population predicted to double, Yemen's future looks uncertain.

It is still north of south, if you see what I mean, but only just.


mattmoo said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
mattmoo said…
I have written a response to Brian Barron's article on my blog.

I live in Yemen and have some issues with the picture Barron paints of Yemen in his article.
Abu Daoud said…
Thanks Matt, will check it out.

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