What image comes to mind when you think of Yemen ?
I always thought of Yemen as a dusty place, with many goat herders, and maybe, not very advanced. I don’t know why I thought that. Well, there was that one episode of “Friends” where Chandler was so desparate to escape from his (ex) girlfriend Janice, that he made an excuse for not meeting her because he was going to rushing to the airport, (Janice goes with him to say goodbye) and when he arrives – without an actual ticket to anywhere – he gets told….”Sir, we have only one more flight out of NY tonight and that is going to Yemen….”
“Ok” says Chandler hestitantly, with a very concerned look on his face…. “looks like I’m going to Yemen” clearly having no clue where it was and knowing nothing about it, but still harboring decidedly negative thoughts none-the-less. TV is such a powerful media huh….
Yes, some of the images I had in my mind might be true, to a point, but Yemen is SOOO much more than that!
Well, sadly it is so much less today, as Saudi Arabia continues to use western supplied weapons to slowly destroy the country and its people…simply because the Yemeni people want a different government to that which Washington wants. Nothing new to see here folks…tragically. Could be anywhere, any time.
Research Yemen and you’ll find quite a different picture, quite the opposite of many stereotypes, which might exist in the western world. Yemen has a great history of technical innovation and of building amazing things.
Take the ancient Yemeni desert city of Shibam. It is called, “The Manhattan of the Desert”.
It’s skyline is 550 years old, creating the world’s first “skyscrapers” more than four centuries before such buildings were created in the western world.
Shibam’s centuries old High Rise Dwellings
Shibam Desert Dwellings 550 years old
But wait, Yemen’s buildings get even more amazing………
These beautiful high rise buildings in Yemen’s capital Sanaa, were built 2500 years ago, 500 years before Christ, and some are 12 stories high.
Sanaa Capital City of Yemen – home to advanced engineering and beautiful 2500 year old high rise buildings.
Sanaa, capital of Yemen – contains beautiful architecture.
What does the Yemen countryside actually look like ? All desert ? Nope – that’s wrong too.
Much of Yemen gets regular enough rainfall, when augmented by water storage and irrigation, to allow cultivation of wheat and barley while the western highlands are famous for sorghum, coffee and tropical fruits like bananas and mangos. Only the eastern and border areas with Saudi Arabia are desert like.
Some of the Yememi landscape is truly stunning ! Almost impossible to believe the size and scale and steepness of the terraces…
Can these substantial multi story buildings clinging to the terraced mountains in Yemen be real ?
They probably are real, as Yemeni’s have had very advanced engineering skills for millennia. Some Yemeni settlements are over 7000 years old and still in use. They have built amazing old bridges that span enormous shear drops in the mountains.
Yemen’s “Bridge of Sighs”
The Shahara bridge is unique, like much of Yemen. Built in the 1600’s, the bridge spans a 100m (300ft) plunge between 2 mountains. It links the town of Shahara with its neighbouring village on the mountain next door…saving many hours of walking down your mountain and up the neighbouring one.
More remarkably, the sturdy bridge was made to be completely collapsible within minutes, back in the 1600’s, should Shahara have come under attack from invaders and need to be protected.
Sadly today, Yemen is being attacked and destroyed by its neanderthal neighbour, Saudi Arabia. Yemen is dieing not just from the onslaught of Saudi bombs and missiles, but from sickness and disease, due to the destruction of their medical facilities, irrigation facilities, sewage systems, communication networks, clean water treatment systems, bridges and electrical networks. Call it Iraq II.
Without this infrastructure and its upkeep, disease and starvation soon take over, as has been seen so tragically so many times already around the world.
What caused Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen ? The usual story sad to say….
The corrupt and autocratic president of Yemen for nearly 40 years, General Ali Abdullah Saleh was overthrown by a genuine and popular people’s uprising bought about by ordinary people’s desire for change in their country. This 2012 movement was part of the much heralded “Arab Spring” – something we were told was a good thing, right ? You know, spreading freedom and democracy, “people power” and all that….
Yeah well, on rare occassions that might be the case, but mostly, it is not. And it wasn’t good for Yemen either that the population chased out their long time dictator.
Because Dictators, Generals and other assorted autocrats are often close friends and allies of the United States and its friends, and this was true in Yemen as well. The new people’s popular government in Yemen is immediately attacked by powerful forces still loyal to the old President and to the United States.
Saudi Arabia leads the way and is using some of the US$100 billion worth of weapons it has been sold by the USA to try to destroy the “Arab Spring” government and place Yemen’s leadership back into the hands of Western friendly Generals.
Civil War has resulted. Yemen is just another of those almost invisible human catastrophies that the Western powers have unleashed on the Middle East in the 21st century and to which the western media plays little attention. So much for freedom and democracy Washington style. I think the world can do without it actually.
When you see and read about the ancient and impressive engineering feats of the Yemini people and their creation of structures far ahead of anything seen in the western world, it is hardly surprising therefore that this nation can, and would defend itself against the Saudi led western bombardment.
Let’s hope all the thousands of innocent Yemeni lives already lost by this silent war at least yield something akin to peace in this long suffering nation. But with the neighbours it has, that isn’t very likely.