Yemen at the Crossroads


YEMEN-10009NF2Women Gathering Clover, Shibam, Wadi Hadhramaut, Yemen 


Strategically located at the crossroads of Africa, the Middle East and Asia,  ancient Yemen became wealthy from the spice trade.  It was so rich the Romans called the land Arabia Felix, Happy Arabia.  Augustus Ceasar tried, but failed, to annex it.  Today it is the poorest country in the Arab world. 









Chronic unemployment, dwindling oil and water supplies, high illiteracy rates, government corruption, and a feuding tribal culture, have created fertile ground for a growing Al-Qaeda presence.





 Sana’a, a living museum,  was declared a World Heritage City by the United Nations in 1986.  There are efforts  to preserve some of the oldest buildings, which are over 1000 years old, but many think that it is too little too late.




Sana’a is a must, however long it takes to get there – Yemeni Proverb









In January and February, 2011, thousands of Yemenis marched to demand a change in government.  The president who has been in power for decades pledged not to run again when his term runs out in 2013.   With 40% unemployment, malnutrition, and rising food prices, it is difficult to see how he can keep the reins of power without major concessions. 


Women queue up to vote in parliamentary elections





In Yemen’s weapon’s culture, it is estimated that there are at least three firearms for each person. 



YEMEN-10033NF  Known as “jambiya“, ornamental knives are an important fashion accessory for Yemeni men.   









The tradition of reciting poetry represents a rich cultural heritage in Yemen.  Oral poetry has offers a socially acceptable way for men and women to solve problems, manage conflicts, and communicate feelings of sorrow, happiness, and worry, according to Najwa Adra, a New York-based anthropologist.






Some poets in Yemen are using poetry to battle extremism.


O men of arms, why do you love injustice?
You must live in law and order
Get up, wake up, or be forever regretful,
Don’t be infamous among the nations

-Amin al-Mashreqi


35 Responses to “Yemen at the Crossroads”

  1. […] above picture and another one showing women harvesting clover is from Steve McCurry’s Blog: Yemen at the Crossroads – well worth a look for other fascinating photos and […]

  2. amazing

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Beautiful pics!

  4. Thanks much for these probing images that peer into the soul of this anguished land. It helps to see more viscerally the enormous gulf between the modern progressive world and the repressive tyranny of Yemen’s corrupt dictatorship and privileged few who care nothing for their country’s well being and dignity.

  5. […] Yemen at crossroads […]

  6. beautiful photos of places and people that arent known to many people in the world. ur photos are poetic images of places and feelings of people that are captured and shown for us…thx

  7. Inspiring and moving images! Thank you for this insight in countries we hardly know and we do not have access to..

  8. Redei Jocelyn Says:

    stunning photography and thankyou:))))

  9. Can’t say much Steve … awesome … awesome …..

  10. alain morris Says:

    Very good, not aware of the situation at all in the Yemen but would very much like to learn about what is happening, I don’t believe in religons however, living in the now is becoming more and more real, so please keep me informed, thank you for making me become aware. A

  11. […] World Heritage City, Yemen, Yemeni. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. via […]

  12. I am truly glad I found your blog Steve. I have followed your work for years and have travelled to many of the same destinations, often inspired by your photos.

    This post gave me a greater insight to Yemen than the multitude of articles I’ve read. Sometimes a few lines of text accompanying stunning imagery can say a great deal. I’m looking forward to working my way bwackwards through your posts.


  13. When I commented, I had not “clicked” in with who you are and what you do. I think I saw your Afghan girl at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in my hometown of Rochester, NY. I was fortunate to grow up there in the midst of so many visual riches from the films to our art gallery, etc. I even took photography class at RIT. So I FULLY appreciate your accomplishments here. I am honored you visited my blog today and that you know all photos are credited there. I have the highest respect for the photographic arts. I will return often.

  14. Beautiful post – poetic in every way – and elegant. Powerful in culminating in the simple poem at the end of the remarkable pictures.

  15. […] Yemen at the Crossroads […]

  16. Mayurakshi Dey Says:

    Hi Steve,

    am a 23 year old girl pursuing MBA

    You are my inspiration for my passion in photography…your images of Yemen are stark and hard-hitting yet playful and moving…..the burqa-clad eyes, the landscapes. colors of random life and the shades of children made a story out of every image…thanks for the treat:)

  17. I like this country, I was there in 2003 (there are some pics on my website), the people was so friendly and so courious, but the political climate was so hostile to USA and the friendly countries, including Italy. I’d like to come back now and taste what happen.

  18. Beautiful collection,

    Thanks for sharing history and culture of Yemen.


  19. Rita Nezami Says:

    Stunning images, at the same time poetic. A beautiful combination.

  20. like always u amaze me and inspire me.

  21. Those pictures was very cool there are some guns in the pictures and there are from Yemen a smal country in Africa and poor to

  22. You inspire me, sir.

  23. Its emotionally provoking to see the extremes of the two kids…one with a gun, and one innocently playing with a stick and tire.

  24. Its always a great joy at looking at your great images.

  25. Steve, usually I feel totally intimidated by how much better your photos are than mine but, this time, perhaps because I lived in Yemen, I don’t. Maybe I am getting ahead of myself. Anyway, see what you think:

  26. Dear Steve, Did you witness a 1000 year old building where people are still living? I can just wonder what that feeling would be when you stand at a place where more than 15 generations have lived !

  27. Vince Provenzano Says:

    Your images are always so moving. I cannot possibly express the overall joy I get when viewing your profound work. You have a vision that is truly unique.


  28. Thought 1 – Truly astonishing colour. Wish I could get colours like that.

    Thought 2 – ““Chronic unemployment, dwindling oil and water supplies, high illiteracy rates, government corruption, and a feuding tribal culture, have created fertile ground ……”. Ticks a few boxes in many countries, around the world, some very close to home. OK, maybe not the water …… yet. We should tackle them one by one.

  29. Steve, Thank you for this wonderful post and imagery.
    I am really looking forward to purchasing your new book coming soon, and looking at your photos of places I will probably never dare to travel,
    I enjoy reading your posts and I am humbled,

  30. Great reportage and beautiful images. Yemen is really an amazing place. Grat job Steve !!

  31. 3 years back, I had an opportunity to live in Yemen Taiz for 3 months. A country much dreaded in western world is a place with wonderful people, great shebani (i hope i spell this right) food and rich culture. Not many know that Yemen is the place for excellent coffee as well.

  32. My dream destination, hope the situation settle enough to be possible to go. The mixture of architecture, landscape and people is my photographic dream and a project I had in mind for more than a while.
    Amazing shots Steve!! (as usual)

  33. Steve –

    Wonderful images – moving, rich, sensitive and insightful to a culture that at this time I must suspect remains difficult to gain access. When did you take these images?

    ~ Jeff

  34. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by craig ferguson, photo blog feeds, PhotojournSG, ahmad zamroni, juan felipe vives and others. juan felipe vives said: Yemen at the Crossroads: […]

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