Adonis Diaries

Archive for the ‘cities/geography’ Category

What Comes After Aleppo Falls?

Note: This is a typical article as the Syrian army was set to liberate and re-conquer East Aleppo from the Islamic terrorists

The battle for eastern Aleppo will be over soon, but tens of thousands of Syrians there will find little peace.

The victory for the government of President Bashar al-Assad will open another violent, disorienting chapter in their lives, and a dangerous one for the opposition.

Soon, civilians and rebel fighters alike will either be punished or have to flee the city and join the many thousands of others displaced by President Assad and his Iranian and Russian allies — part of a plan to break the insurgency, and change Syria forever.

In a recent interview, Mr. Assad said that taking Aleppo, which has been the site of fighting for years, “won’t mean the end of the war in Syria, but it will be a huge step toward this end.” He’s right on both counts.

It would certainly be the most notable in a string of recent victories by his forces, along with those of Russia, Iran and other allied militia groups. The aftermaths of these victories show what’s in store for the civilians and rebel fighters in Aleppo: Surrender might save them from bombs, siege and starvation, but other calamities await. (Like what? After the horrors the citizens experienced?)

The history of what Mr. Assad’s government once called “truces” — but now more honestly promotes as military victories — is dark. (Most cities were cleared from terrorist rebels by such negotiated truces, where the militants and families are relocated to Edleb or northern regions of their choices)

In 2014, Mr. Assad’s forces detained hundreds of young men in the opposition who had agreed to surrender in the Old City of Homs, a center of the uprising that was eventually bombed and starved into submission. Many were promised amnesty, only to be conscripted into the very military that had killed their families. (By their own signed agreement in order to re-integrate their communities)

Residents were eventually allowed to leave to other opposition areas carrying a single bag each. (Fighters could take one personal weapon.) Displacing or detaining populations has become business as usual in areas retaken by the regime.

Two years later, Mr. Assad is even less compromising. Today he claims the chance of a truce in Aleppo is “practically nonexistent.” His confidence is buoyed by a series of rebel defeats in 2016, after which populations were forced from besieged areas to Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.

Today, as one Aleppo district after another falls, the rebels know resistance is futile; Mr. Assad knows that they know. His forces will make opposition areas unlivable, isolate fighters from civilians, and force both to surrender or leave.

These cleansings reflect a pattern, but the strategy behind them is still unclear. Maybe Mr. Assad believes that if these people remain, they will pose a permanent threat to nearby areas under his control.

Maybe he doesn’t want to spend government money on them. Or maybe his minority-led regime (that’s past history: Most of the army is constituted of Sunnis and Christians) just wants to push disloyal Sunnis out of its heartland in western Syria (dominated by Daesh and still supported by USA).

Whatever the logic, this ominous pattern — sometimes called the “green bus” strategy after the vehicles used to transport the displaced — paints a grim picture of what the people of Aleppo can expect. (Turned out Not to be grim, but a joyous end from slavery and famine)



Levantine vocabulary, 80% of words used in conversation (Zipf). Very few words have Arabic origin (conflations).

NassimNicholasTaleb @nntaleb 11h11 hours ago

Arab “nationalists” believe and spread this misconception that people in the Levant had NO language before the Arabs showed up. In fact it is Arabic that changed and got richer from the input and import from the local languages. Especially, urban terms of far more complex social structures and interactions
Much of the similarities between Levantine and Arabic come from Aramaic loan words into Arabic, particularly religious ones
Words such as “syrup” or “sorbet” that come from Arabic actually have Aramaic roots SRB: parched (to offset)

Refugee death toll passes 1,073 in record 2017

Why charities attacked for conducting Mediterranean rescues

‘NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence’

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has recorded at least 1,073 people dead or missing on the treacherous passage between Libya and Italy – a grim benchmark that was not reached until the end of May last year.

At least 150 are children, Unicef said, while warning that the real figure is likely to be far higher because unaccompanied minors’ deaths frequently go unreported.

Such is the danger of death that asylum seekers embarking on flimsy dinghies have been known to write phone numbers in marker pen on life jackets, so loved ones can be notified if their body is recovered.

More than 8,300 migrants were rescued over the Easter weekend alone, with some of those taken to safety telling aid workers around 100 of their fellow passengers had died during the voyage.

Many dinghies have capsized, seeing up to 170 people crammed on board drown, while others have been found dead in boats after being suffocated, dying of hypothermia or starving while drifting at sea.

Smugglers are pushing more and more boats into the Mediterranean as the weather improves and amid rumours of a crackdown by the Libyan coastguard, which is being bolstered by Italian funding and equipment.

The unprecedented crisis has sparked intervention by several non-governmental organisations (NGOs), who have launched their own rescue ships equipped with medical staff and supplies to bolster efforts by the EU’s Operation Sophia.

Initially welcomed by European authorities, their growing role in the Mediterranean has been met with increasing suspicion by right-wing politicians and groups now accusing them of “colluding” with smugglers.

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), whose staff work on two rescue ships, dismissed the claims as “baseless”.

Stefano Argenziano, the group’s operations manager for migration, said it rejects any accusation of cooperation with ruthless Libyan smugglers, who have turned a humanitarian crisis into a lucrative business helping fuel the country’s ongoing war.

“It’s a ludicrous accusation that’s diverting attention from the real problem,” he told The Independent.

“The real problem is that people are dying. There’s a gap in assistance and we’re starting to wonder whether this is part of a deliberate plan to step the migration flow…a deadly deterrent.”

Mr Argenziano said interventions by EU assets, excepting the Italian coastguard, were often “very little and very late” and condemned the continent’s refusal to provide other routes to safety.

“Search and rescue is not the problem, but it is not the solution either,” he added.

“It is a necessity to save lives unless politicians can produce a safe and legal alternative.”

Following the closure of the refugee route over the Aegean Sea using the controversial EU-Turkey deal last year, cooperation has been ramping up with the fragile Libyan Government of National Accord.

Italy signed an agreement backed by the EU to reduce boat crossings over the Central Mediterranean in February but it was later suspended by the justice ministry in Tripoli and remains in limbo.

Rome agreed to supply the country’s coastguard, which is itself accused of killing and abusing migrants, with 10 new boats alongside millions of euros in funding for migration initiatives.

International organisations believe the ultimate aim – transferring responsibility for rescues to Libya and holding migrants in detention centres there – is not viable amid the ongoing conflict and the widespread enslavement, capture, torture and extortion of asylum seekers.

Rob MacGillivray, the director of Save the Children’s search and rescue programme, said pushing boats back to shore from international waters would be illegal.

“It’s not going to stop crossings and even if it did, all that would happen and the routes would shift to Algeria, Tunisia or Egypt for example,” he added, rejecting accusations of NGOs colluding with smugglers.

“Safety is not the smugglers’ first priority and they will use whatever floats to send people across the Mediterranean.

“If search and rescue providers were to finish work tomorrow, would the people smugglers just fade into the background?”

In 2015, operations were mainly undertaken by Italian law-enforcement, EUNAVFOR Med or Frontex vessels. NGO vessels were involved in less than 5 per cent of incidents.

But they are now deployed to respond to around half of missions by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Rome, which also draws on military, coastguard and commercial ships.

A cursory internet search reveals countless blogs accusing NGOs of colluding in illegal people smuggling, while numerous conspiracy theories have arisen over what far-right commentators label the “invasion of Europe”.

The latest politician to push for the Central Mediterranean route to be closed is Wolfgang Sobotka, the Austrian interior minister.

“A rescue in the open sea cannot be a ticket to Europe, because it hands organised traffickers every argument to persuade people to escape for economic reasons,” he told Germany’s DPA news agency.

“[Stopping crossings] is the only way to end the tragic and senseless deaths in the Mediterranean.”

Mr Sobotoka, from the right-wing Austrian People’s Party, claimed his country could put up borders in the event of any influx, saying the numbers seen in 2015 “must not be repeated”.

The government in Vienna is one of several to have implemented a limit on asylum seekers, with calls to halve the current annual cap of 17,000.

In Italy, the chief prosecutor in the Sicilian city of Catania has formed a task force on claims of links between NGOs and smugglers.

Carmelo Zuccaro admitted he had no proof and the public prosecutor decided not to investigate, but a fact finding mission was launched by the Italian parliament.

Frontex, the EU border agency, has also raised concern over smugglers’ alleged use of rescue vessels.

A confidential report leaked in December claimed migrants were given “clear indications before departure on the precise direction to be followed in order to reach the NGOs’ boats” and accused charities of warning rescued asylum seekers not to cooperate with Italian authorities.

Another report released by Frontex in February claimed search and rescue operations near the Libyan coast “unintentionally help criminals achieve their objectives at minimum cost, strengthen their business model by increasing the chances of success”.

It recognised that rescues were needed to comply with international legal obligations and said safe and legal routes were needed for refugees, but alleged sailing close to Libyan territorial waters acted as a “pull factor”.

The Malta-based charity Moas (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) pointed out that boat crossings increased even when Italy stopped its Mare Nostrum operation, while a recent Oxford University study found rescues have “little or no effect on the number of arrivals”.

A representative said migrants were being “increasingly used by politicians in Europe to fuel the rise of nationalism”, adding: “The migration phenomenon is not going away, and focusing only on patrolling the EU’s borders is definitely not the solution.”

With almost 37,000 asylum seekers arriving in Italy so far this year, mainly from Guinea, Nigeria and other African nations, the crisis shows no sign of slowing.

Sophie Beau, the co-founder of rescue charity SOS Mediterranée, said NGOs were being forced to act by the “failure of European states”, who should be increasing capacity themselves.

“NGOs are being blamed for our presence, when authorities should be blamed for their absence,” she added.

“There’s a humanitarian tragedy unfolding in front of our eyes at the door of Europe and we cannot just remain blind.”

Note: France wanted to depose Kaddafi because he declined to purchase French weapons: Italy is taking care of the problems France  generated. Syria refused to have Qatar gas pipeline ending in Turkey instead of Syrian ports: Syria calamity is the problem of everyone, except Qatar… And most horror stories in the Middle-East are of these kinds of irrational non-patient negotiations

Why Somali piracy is staging a comeback

After a five-year hiatus, hijackers have taken five vessels in the past month

BETWEEN 2008 and 2011, the waters off the coast of Somalia were the most treacherous shipping lanes in the world. More than 700 attacks on vessels took place in this period.

In early 2011, 758 seafarers were being held hostage by pirates.

Hijackings cost the shipping industry and governments as much as $7bn in 2012. But then, quite suddenly, the banditry stopped. (Need a better explanation than Suddenly)

The last hijacking of a merchant vessel occurred in May 2012. Until now.

There have been 5 confirmed incidents of piracy on the Gulf of Aden in the past month, beginning with the kidnapping of a Sri Lankan crew of the Aris 13 oil tanker on March 13th (they were later released without a ransom). After a five-year hiatus, piracy seems to have returned to the Horn of Africa. Why?

Attacks had slumped in large part thanks to beefed-up security measures. Rocketing insurance premiums meant shipping companies were forced to invest in armed guards, and to chart longer, safer routes far from the Somali coast.

Since armed guards first started crewing ships as protection against Somali pirates, none of their charges have been successfully hijacked. But smaller vessels keen to cut costs have grown complacent in recent months.

The Comoros-flagged Aris 13 was sailing close to the shore, and slow enough to attract attention. There were no armed guards on board. There were also fewer international naval patrols in the area than there had been.

But as when the first wave of piracy struck these waters back in the early 2000s, conditions on shore matter most. Somalia remains under-governed and mired in conflict.

Puntland and Galmudug, the two federal states nearest the most recent hijackings, are particularly troubled even by Somali standards.

Galmudug currently has no president and the regional government is stuck in an existential battle against Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a, a local Islamist militia. Puntland’s government is more capable but has problems paying its security forces. Islamic State has been making inroads.

And both, like the rest of Somalia, are suffering from a devastating drought. Young men are easy prey for the organised gangs that conduct piracy operations, especially those in coastal towns who have long complained about rampant illegal fishing in Somali waters, to which the international community has largely turned a blind eye.

Observers should be wary of proclaiming piracy’s return, cautions Timothy Walker of the Institute for Security Studies—since it never really went away.

The same gangs still operate, much like the clan-based militias that plague Somalia on land. Many remain involved in other forms of criminal activity, such as drugs smuggling.

While the Aris 13 was the first large merchant vessel to be hijacked in four years, smaller ones, most often local fishing boats, have continued to be targeted.

It is suspected that many more incidents go unreported. A lack of international victims had made it easy for the world’s attention to move elsewhere. But until piracy ceases to be an attractive business opportunity it will remain a plague.

Note: Any links of this resurgence with the war raging in Yemen? Many Somali trapped in Yemen are Not given access to return home because of maritime blockade on Yemen by USA, Saudi Kingdom and Qatar. This expansionist war on Yemen in order to have military bases in Yemen and occupying islands has already devastated the infrastructure and made 8 million kid suffer hunger and lack of medicine.


How the Syrian Civil War Has Transformed Hezbollah

The Lebanese Shiite militia, which has played a central role in defending the Assad regime, is now a powerful regional player.

What the orientation of the streets in Paris do tell us of its history?

La géométrie de la capitale nous raconte les principaux épisodes de son développement

Ceci est une carte visant à révéler l’orientation des rues de Paris. Si elle paraît sophistiquée, sa matière première n’en est pas moins sommaire: les tracés de voies du projet OpenStreetMap.

La couleur d’une rue dépend de son angle sur une échelle de 0 à 90°: deux teintes ont été utilisées, jaune-orangé et magenta, et elles sont d’autant plus claires que l’on se rapproche de l’axe méridien (Nord-Sud) ou parallèle (Est-Ouest).

Cet éventail de couleur est organisé de façon à ce que deux rues perpendiculaires aient la même couleur et à ce qu’une rue qui «perturbe» un quartier bien ordonné ait une couleur différente.

Certaines formes sur la carte, par le jeu des couleurs et des juxtapositions, ont éveillé ma curiosité. Simple géomaticien, peu rompu à l’histoire et à l’urbanisme, je me suis réduit à détailler le procédé de fabrication de la carte sur mon blog.

Plus tard, je me suis lancé dans un travail d’investigation afin de tenter de la comprendre.

De manière générale, Paris s’est développée par à-coups.

Ses différentes enceintes en sont la trace. Un réseau de rues peut se développer progressivement à partir d’un axe de circulation en de multiples ramifications, tel les nervures d’une feuille. Il peut aussi être bousculé par des évènements politiques, historiques.

<a href="">Voir la carte en grand.</a>

1.La carte, regardée de loin


À l’instar d’un tableau, une carte dévoile des choses différentes selon la distance à laquelle on la regarde. Voyons ce que nous réserve une vision globale de la carte.

Cliquez pour agrandir la carte. Source: Bibliothèque en ligne Gallica

Par son jeu de lignes, l’ossature de Paris nous rappelle constamment à son berceau, l’île de la Cité.

Cette île vit la naissance de Lutèce, en 52 av. J.C., après la victoire de Jules César sur Vercingétorix. À mesure que l’on s’en éloigne, les voies semblent régies par d’autres polarités. Le déplacement dans l’espace suit celui du temps.


Les rues épousent souvent des parallèles aux voies navigables: la Seine et ses canaux. Ces derniers ont constitué une épine dorsale à partir de laquelle s’est développée la ville.

L’historien du XVIIIe siècle Jules Michelet qualifiait d’ailleurs la Seine de «grande rue»: ses rives accueillaient, jusqu’au XIXe siècle, moulins, abattoirs, tanneries, établissements de bains, blanchisseries, pompes à eau, activités de pêche.

Jusqu’à l’arrivée du chemin de fer, les deux tiers environ de l’approvisionnement de Paris arrivaient par la Seine.

Cardo Maximus

A l’intérieur de l’enceinte Charles V (XIVe siècle) et de l’enceinte de Philippe-Auguste (XIIIe siècle), dont les périmètres figurent sur l’image ci-dessous, le réseau de rues est largement perpendiculaire.

Cliquez pour agrandir.

Lutèce était construite autour du Cardo Maximus, l’actuelle rue Saint-Jacques de l’île de la Cité, selon un plan quadrillé typique des villes neuves coloniales. Paris s’est souvent reconstruite sur elle-même, conservant en son centre ce schéma romain.

2.Quand on parcourt la carte latéralement


Nous discernons sur la carte un axe Est-Ouest.

Cliquez pour agrandir

Préfiguré par l’avenue Victoria, cet axe ne cessera de s’étendre à partir du XVIIIe siècle. Il lie aujourd’hui l’avenue des Champs-Élysées, la rue Saint-Honoré, la rue de Rivoli et la rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine.

Les hauts lieux de pouvoir et de culture, le Louvre, le Palais Royal, sont mis en scène de façon magistrale par cette perspective monumentale.


Voir sur le GéoPortail (OpenStreetMap + Carte État-Major 1820 + Carte Topo 1906 + Photos Aériennes)

Les voies à l’Ouest forment des figures plus alambiquées qu’à l’Est. À partir de la seconde moitié du XVIIIe siècle, l’Ouest est le lieu d’opérations de prestige, prestige que reflètent des places rayonnantes, telles celle de l’Etoile, où se rejoignent pas moins de douze avenues. L’Est, lui, se spécialise dans les activités industrielles et artisanales.


L’avenue de l’Opéra

Sur la carte, des rues se superposent à un réseau préexistant.

Auparavant, les quartiers se développaient en faubourgs le long d’axes de circulation.

Sous Napoléon III, au XIXe siècle, Georges Eugène Haussmann aura pour mission d’assainir et d’embellir la ville. C’est ainsi qu’il détruira, rebâtira sans compter, afin de tracer des voies larges, salubres et somptueuses. On lui doit en grande partie le visage actuel de la capitale.

Boulevard Magenta

Comparaison carte et OpenStreetMap. Voir sur le GéoPortail

La gare de Lyon date de 1855 et celle de l’Est de 1865. Le boulevard Magenta est une traversée importante qui permettra de les relier, ainsi que la place de la République et les boulevards «extérieurs».

Boulevard Raspail

Voir sur le GéoPortail

Le percement du Boulevard Raspail, décidé en 1866, s’étalera sur plus de 40 ans et se fera par tronçons.

Avenue de l’Opéra

Voir sur le GéoPortail

L’Opéra Garnier a été inauguré en 1875. Le percement de l’avenue de l’Opéra, en plus d’offrir un cadre grandiose à ce dernier, connecte le Louvre à la gare Saint-Lazare. Ce chantier prendra dix ans, de 1864 à son année d’inauguration. Il entraînera la destruction d’un quartier ancien, populaire et dégradé.


Sur la carte, on peut s’étonner de la présence d’îlots de couleur différentes, indiquant un développement a priori singulier.

Un lotissement: le village Orléans

Dans le XIVe arrondissement, la carte comporte une petite tache.

Cliquer pour voir en grand.

À partir de 1820 commencent des opérations de logement très importantes en périphérie de Paris, en réponse à une pression démographique importante. 1830 verra celle du lotissement du village Orléans, visible ci-dessus.

Comme il est possible de le voir sur la carte d’État-Major (1820-1866), le quartier comportait deux rues, qui ont subsisté ajourd’hui: les rues Hallé et Couedic. Le bâti ne suivait pas leur axe mais celui des deux rues environnantes. Désormais, les immeubles suivent l’orientation des deux rues précitées, comme l’indiquent la carte de 1906 et celle d’OpenStreetMap.


Une «anomalie» apparaît au nord de Paris.

CC BY-SA 2.5 par Sam67fr

Il s’agit de la butte Montmartre. L’orientation Nord-Sud de la montée qui mène à la Basilique du Sacré Coeur, édifiée en 1875, et celle de son réseau d’allées, correspond à celle du monument.

Les édifices religieux suivent généralement une orientation Est-Ouest, mais Pie V dira qu’il importe davantage que la façade de l’église soit bien orientée par rapport à la ville.

La basilique offre un promontoire idéal duquel admirer Paris. Réciproquement, son orientation lui permet d’être admirée de face depuis de nombreux endroits de la capitale.

Square du serment de Koufra

En suivant la ceinture verte, on aboutit, vers la porte d’Orléans, à un square dont les allées tracent des obliques.

Photographie Aérienne Géoportail IGN © sur fonds OpenStreetMap MapQuest. Voir sur le GéoPortail

Il s’agit du square du serment de Koufra, créé en 1930. Le général Leclerc prêta ce serment à l’issue de la bataille de Koufra, en 1941. L’emplacement du square est symbolique car c’est par la Porte d’Orléans que ce même général entra le premier à Paris avec les unités alliées. Le parc, en faisant face à la place d’Orléans, rappelle ce moment historique.


Parc de Bercy

Voir sur le GéoPortail

Voies d’OpenStreetMap superimposées à une photographie aérienne de 1929 issue du Géoportail IGN ©

Une forme circulaire est de nature à intriguer quelqu’un d’étranger à Paris. Il s’agit du Parc de Bercy et de son dôme.

Ce parc a été réalisé dans les années 90 et son emprise reprend à peu près celle des jardins des demeures du petit château à la propriété des frères Paris. La carte topo IGN de 1906 indique des magasins généraux à cet endroit. Cette prise de vue aérienne de l’IGN de 1929, à laquelle j’ai superposé les données actuelles OpenStreetMap, atteste également de la présence d’entrepôts.

Bassin de La Villette

Voir sur le GéoPortail

Une forme blanche, évoquant un bateau, apparaît dans le quartier de la Villette.

La treemap du MOS indique là une zone d’équipements en 1980 et une zone d’activités en 2000. En allant sur Google Street View, on peut deviner qu’il s’agit là d’entrepôts reconvertis en bureaux.

Le canal Saint-Denis accueillait jadis des activités de fret. Ce secteur est emblématique de la transformation qui a vu, le long des canaux, la disparition progressive des ateliers, usines et entrepôts au profit d’activités de services.

Une fresque trouvée au hasard d’une promenade dans le quartier témoigne effectivement du passé industrieux des bâtiments considérés.


Voir sur le GéoPortail

Dans le sillage de Paris, à Levallois-Perret, on repère des rues bien ordonnées. La commune, classée dixième au niveau de la densité de population, augure d’une nouvelle vision de l’urbanisme. Elle absorbe ses habitants au sein d’un tamis régulier. La fiche communale du MOS nous informe qu’un peu plus de 80% de la surface de la commune est occupée par des espaces construits artificialisés.

Dans la recherche, un bagage scientifique mène à toutes sortes d’expériences. Dans mon cas, l’expérience scientifique, à savoir la conception de cette carte, a amené un travail d’investigation au cours duquel je parcourais l’espace cartographique en même temps que la Toile.

Cet article, bien plus que de vouloir affirmer quelque chose, a pour but d’illustrer que chacun peut mener son enquête à son niveau, grâce aux logiciels et données libres disponibles sur le web.

Ainsi, vous aurez peut-être pu prendre connaissance grâce à lui d’outils géographiques très utiles tels que le GéoPortail, OpenStreetMap ou le MOS île-de-France.

Yemen, Beyond the Headlines

Yemen is a country in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula rich in culture, heritage, and history, with an extremely friendly and hospitable people.

Noon Arabia posted on Global Voice this 25 June 2013

But that doesn’t make the news.

The country is often misrepresented in Western media coverage, magnifying the country’s negative aspects.

A country of 24 million people of many different backgrounds “has been reduced to Al-Qaeda…wars, poverty, Qat, tribalism, or the ancestral home of Osama Bin Laden,” writes blogger Atiaf Alwazir (@womanfromyemen) in her post “The Flawed Media Narrative on Yemen“:

Today’s journalism on Yemen is no longer about getting the facts right, or inspiring people to think independently, it is about who can write the most sensationalized story on the country – no matter how many times it has already been told – because that is what sells.

But some Yemenis are trying to change that. Using film, photography, blogging, and social media, they want the world to see Yemen for its rich art, unique architecture, and the breath-taking landscapes and scenery that the country has to offer.

A panoramic view capturing Yemen's unique architecture by photographer: Mohammed Alnahdi

A panoramic view capturing Yemen’s unique architecture by photographer Mohammed Alnahdi.

Getting to know Yemen

Yemen is the one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with its history dating back to the first millennium B.C.

It was commonly known as Arabia Felix, meaning Fortunate Arabia or Happy Arabia.

In fact, four of the world’s heritage sites are in Yemen.

First, is the old capital itself, Sanaa. One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, it boasts more than 103 mosques, 14 hammams (baths) and more than 6,000 multi-story mud houses with unique architecture, featuring spectacular decorated facades adorned with stained glass windows.

A video uploaded by UNESCO offers a glimpse of old Sanaa:

Second is Shibam, also known as the “Manhattan of the desert”, which is home to the oldest skyscrapers in the world — 500 mud-brick houses which are eleven stories high.

Shibam, the Manhattan of the desert, by photographer: Michail Vorobyev.

Shibam, the Manhattan of the desert, by photographer Michail Vorobyev.

Third is the island of Socotra, the largest member of an archipelago site, important for its biodiversity and distinct flora and fauna. According to UNESCO, “37% of Socotra’s 825 plant species, 90% of its reptile species, and 95% of its land snail species do not occur anywhere else in the world.”

Take a look at the island in this YouTube video uploaded by ToYemen:

The last is the picturesque coastal town of Zabid, with its narrow alleyways and burnt brick buildings.

Beyond the media’s portrayal

Various online efforts are being made to combat the media’s narrow view of Yemen.

This short 20-minute video film, made for the British Council’s Zoom Short Film Competition 2010 and uploaded to YouTube by ZoomCompetition, tries to correct misunderstandings about Yemenis conveyed through the distorted media coverage by showing their simple life:

To educate people on Yemen’s history and heritage, Yemeni Poet Sana Uqba (@Sanasiino), who lives in London, wrote and recited a powerful poem about Yemen (video uploaded by Yemeniah Feda’aih):

One of my most popular blog posts entitled “Yemen… unraveled facts about my beautiful homeland” highlights many hidden facts about Yemen, such as it being the source of one of the finest and most expensive honey in the world – the “Doani honey” – and one of the first countries to introduce coffee to Europe by exporting its own coffee brand out of the port of Mocha.

Fahd Aqlan, a 35-year-old Yemeni man residing in Cairo, Egypt, started a Facebook page called So you think you’ve seen Yemen? to counter misconceptions and show the world another aspect of Yemen beyond what is portrayed in news headlines.

Summer Nasser, a Yemeni activist and blogger based in New York, started another Facebook page entitled The People of Yemen, which as she describes is a “photo project which brings the life of Yemen, one picture at a time to it’s audience across the world.”

Others have spoken out in support of the country. Yemen-based journalist Adam Baron said in his Drones-Ad-Hoc hearing testimony:

Yemenis, as a rule, are nearly unfathomably friendly and welcoming.

On Twitter, Word Press Award winner and Spanish photojournalist Samuel Aranda (@Samuel_Aranda_) put in a good word for country as a foreigner:

@Samuel_Aranda_: For who thinks that in Yemen are only extremist. Visit Yemen!!!

Sampling Yemen’s cuisine

Yemeni food is often accompanied by homemade bread and cooked in stoneware. This photo show’s a typical breakfast or dinner made of bread, fava beans, and liver accompanied by tea with milk and cardamon:

A typical Yemeni breakfast or dinner

A typical Yemeni breakfast or dinner. Photo courtesy “So you think you’ve seen Yemen?” Facebook page.

Bint El Sahn is a very popular and traditional Yemeni dish. Literally translated to English, it means “daughter of the plate.” It is made of many layers of dough, baked and served with a drizzle of honey on top. It is consumed during the meal as a main dish, not a desert.

The famous Bint El Sahn. Photograph by Hend Abdullah

The famous Bint El Sahn. Photograph by Hend Abdullah

Yemeni Kitchen is a great blog for an introduction to the country’s cuisine. The blog, as described by the authors, “focuses on Yemeni Food with a historical twist.” Not only does it provide a step-by-step recipe of the dishes it introduces, but it also describes the history behind them as well.

Yemeni music and dance

A traditional northern Yemeni dance is called Bara’a and is performed with swift movements carrying a Janbiya, the Yemeni dagger, while dancing to the tunes of the Yemeni drum and muzmar, a type of Yemeni flute. Watch how young people perform this art in this video up loaded to YouTube by GTB313:

In the south, there is Hardamout dance and music, as seen in this YouTube video uploaded by Yemen Reform:

To listen to various Yemeni songs and rhythms, check out the following links: Ayoub Tarish is a famous Yemeni singer and composer; Yemen Reform provide YouTube videos of different Yemeni singers performing such as Alharethi, Alanessi, Alkebsi and also various Yemeni Nasheed Asswat Yemenia (Yemeni voices), and in addition to that it has songs for Abu Bakr Salem Balfaqih, Ali Thahban and Mohammed Morsehd Naji among others;

My Diwan has the largest collection of Yemeni songs and Ahmed Fathi is a prominent Yemeni musician, singer, composer and Oud player.

Art, photography, and landscapes This video, uploaded by TourYemen, shows the art, culture, and breathtaking landscape and beautiful scenery in Yemen:

Another panoramic tour of Yemen is available in this video uploaded to YouTube by tomeriko:

More breath-taking photos of Yemen can be seen through the Facebook pages of photographers Ameen Al-Ghabri and Abu Malik:

A beautiful shot of the old city of Sanaa through the lens of Ameen Alghabri

A beautiful shot of the old city of Sanaa through the lens of Ameen Alghabri.

A selection of Photos of the portal city of Aden by Ameen Alghabri

A selection of photos of the portal city of Aden by Ameen Alghabri.

A breath taking view of the city of Ibb seen from a cliff. Photograph by Abu Malik

A breath taking view of the city of Ibb seen from a cliff. Photo by Abu Malik.

Some of the most famous Yemeni painters are Lamia Al-KibsiFouad Al-Foutaih and Mazher Nizar, and more of his work can be viewed here and here.

Oil painting by Fouad Al Foutaih, from the private collection of the author of this post, Noon Arabia

Oil painting by Fouad Al Foutaih, from the private collection of the author of this post, Noon Arabia.

For an alternative to Western media, follow local cultural and social stories through Yemen’s own media, such as The Yemen Times and La Voix du Yemen.


Written by Noon Arabia Posted 25 June 2013 9:15 GMT ·

Note: Since 2015, Saudi Kingdom, backed by USA, Britain and Israel have been bombing, and destroying all kinds of infrastructures in Yemen. Hospitals and schools have been air stroked. Sanctions and blockading seas and airlifts has set famine for 8 million kids. And for What? So that USA can have a naval base on the Red Sea.




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