When you are in your final year at uni, everyone asks everyone (even I do) of the next year BIG plans! Some have braved this recession and are going to get a job or look for one, or some have discovered, like me, that they can’t be leaving the student life yet and opted for a postgrad degree, which I wish, but it seems I can’t afford a £19,000 tuition at the moment to pay for it.
Given that I haven’t sorted out my next step of my life yet, my answer back goes like this “I’m going back home, back to Yemen”… in which I receive back an initial response that combines surprise and bewilderment “you are from Yemen??” or a response like this sometimes (i’m not joking) “is that in Scotland or Ireland?”….
So, while at that point people start to get their old school geography back to their minds and try and muster a sober thought of where the hell is that country, which surprisingly is still the question I get even after it has been a bit more on the news recently (you know like those few AlQaeda fashion shows, and an arab spring gig that was on show for 9 months starring a resilient old president who has been ‘dancing on snakes heads’ for 33 years)….anyways, I guess not everyone is into reading boring news most of the time like me! But I still laugh a lot whenever I hear someone who comments back that they know Yemen because they’ve heard Chandler in an episode of Friends talk about going to Yemen in an attempt to escape his girlfriend Janice!
Some friends have asked questions about Yemen recently such as “what is Yemen like?” and “what is food like?”, so I’ve put together a couple of music links and few pictures in a slideshow to show you what Chandler would have visited if he actually went!
Since this is a music blog, I can’t break the rules by not posting a music link although you would probably not understand the lyrics since its in Arabic (but I also put a non-vocal track). This type of typical music is played in Yemen (particularly the north):
Thought I’d put a song from the south as well, a very popular Yemeni artist!
This is the non-vocal music link, not very exact typical Yemeni, but the artist is a famous Yemeni called Ahmed Fathi and is also played on the oud!
An intro to the emerging hiphop culture in Yemen
A glimpse of some Yemeni dancing!
Other random links for further information on Yemen:
More Pictures!!! And also the source of all of the pictures in the slideshow above:
A very well-written interesting blog of a Lebanese expat who lived in Yemen for 8 years. She writes about her stories in Sana’a while touching on some of social issues!
A BBC documentary on the frankincesne trail covering some parts of Yemen in the first part!
For those interested in some of the extreme sports (paragliding and freeflying), this is a link to some European (i think from Norway) tourists who did this in Socotra (i guess during winter season when its more windy)!
TO answer a couple of questions in advance I was asked sometimes:
Why visit Yemen?
Because its mysterious, constantly misunderstood and very beautiful! Not many tourists visit at all, that alone makes its more exotic to visit! It is safer than the media reports it to be! And there are many expats who live and love Yemen!
Is it safe now to go to Yemen?
Well, I’m not a security expert, but I’m going back there soon, and my family lives there and so does 23 million other people live there! Yemen has been on the black list of many foreign countries, but it’s always been there since even before the revolution! Some areas are safe, some areas are risky! Yemen is now getting back on its feet after a tough revolution and the situation is improving! There are different media reports of Al-Qaeda activity in the south, but the extent of truth is still unknown and whether they are actually Alqaeda or reminiscent of the previous ousted government! There are cases of foreigners being kidnapped but that’s mostly by tribes wanting to negotiate with the government on prisoners release. Attacks on westerners because of extremists is quite rare!
Maybe in a few months from now, things will be back to normal as they have always been! You are all invited to come and visit! I can happily host depending on if I get my own place!
Hope you enjoyed knowing about Yemen! and see you there I hope! It’s an open invitation to all!